How do you know that you are ill? You snivel, you feel pain… But our immune system doesn’t feel pain. How does our immune system recognize a disease?

The identification of the disease, the enemy, first requires some spying. The immune system does this by eating the sick cell or bacteria and breaking it down. From the remains of the sick cell we take information to guard ourselves against the disease. All cells, so also sick cells, consist of a watery inside and an outer layer of fat. Much information for the recognition of diseases are in this fat layer.

But there is a problem. We know how the information is taken from the inner water-layer, but not how it is taken from the outer fat layer. That is why I rebuild this fat layer and make small chemical adjustments in the information and colour them so I can follow the process of degradation and information processing. If we understand how this works, then we can use this knowledge to make more efficient vaccines.

University of Groningen

How does our immune system actually recognize a disease? Through espionage. The immune system collects information by eating and breaking down a diseased cell or bacterium. From the remains of that diseased cell, the system retrieves information to arm itself against the disease. But we do not yet know exactly how this works. Frans Bianchi is building parts of these cells to understand this process and hopefully to develop more efficient vaccines in the future.

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