So this was cool. We discussed this paper in our most recent infectious diseases journal club.
Imagine this, you have spiderman, and he makes this web to catch bad guys. Some bad guys get picked up by the police and go to jail, but some bad guys actually use that very same web, cutting it in various ways, and turn it into a trap for the police. A trap that ultimately prevents those policeman from doing their job. How does this happen? How will you catch those bad guys now? Can you prevent the bad guys from cutting the webbing to hurt the policeman? Won’t someone please think of the children?
Believe it or not, this process happens inside of you all the time. Here is a quick immune system primer before I get to how it is done.
Your immune system is really cool. It has various lines of defense. Most commonly, it is described as the primary response and the secondary response. The primary response (innate immune response) sees foreign things and tries to get rid of them with extreme force (usually it eats the pathogen to kill it). It isn’t very specific, it tries to get any foreign thing out fast. The secondary response (adaptive immune response) is the more specific response. Think of it as a group of soldiers that were literally born and bred to attack one thing and one thing only. They lay there waiting to strike until they see it then they take it down. And you can form millions of different groups to respond to different situations.
In the primary immune response, you have many types of cells. Here I will just tell you about two, neutrophils (cells that don’t live very long) and macrophages (cells that live longer). Both try to eat debris or invading pathogens. They also do a host of other things and each have a specialized function. Here is a really interesting video of a neutrophil chasing, tracking down, and killing a bacterium.
Now back to the spiderman story. The neutrophils actually spit out their DNA to form a web AKA a NET (Neutrophil Extracellular Trap) that bacteria can get caught in. This webbing has other things in it as well to help kill invading pathogens. Then the macrophages can come and scoop the bad stuff up and clear it from the body.
Here is where it gets interesting. A bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) has a way of getting out of the netting. Not only that, Staph can cut the DNA in such a way that is acts as a poison for the macrophages. Here is a write up about it. The actual article is subscription based. But if you are at a library or at a place with access, here is that article too.
So how do we get rid of the bad bacteria, we still have those secondary response soldiers. And we have research too, lots and lots of research.
Also, today is my 9 year anniversary. Yay us 🙂
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