The human body is an amazing instrument that has the ability to heal itself from a variety of different maladies. One of the tools the immune system uses is called a T cell which is depicted in the video above.
Killer T cells have the ability to identify and attack diseased cells in order to eradicate them from the body of its host. Specifically, the T cell in the video is classified as cytotoxic, meaning that its primary purpose is to go around looking for cancerous cells and eradicate them without causing any damage to the healthy cells in the area.
Pictured above on the right (using an electron microscope), T cells come in six different flavors, all of which having different functions to help heal the body. As members of the white blood cell family all of their purposes are geared towards the eradication of things that should not be in the blood stream. What’s interesting about T cells is that they are highly efficient killers, almost the smart-bomb of the body if you will. In the case of the cytotoxic T cell, it secretes a glycoprotein to its surface that is able to detect a unique antigen that is present with cells that are cancerous. Researchers are working to learn more about these cells so they can gain control of them to create a new weapon in the fight against cancer.
T cells aren’t always helpful however, as they are the cause of the body rejecting an organ that has been transplanted into a person’s body. They see the new organ as a foreign substance, and work to eradicate it. There are medical treatments to lessen the bodies response, but there other dangers that are inherent with that as well since they involve making the T cells inactive. Hopefully by furthering the understanding that science has about the T cell, the problem of rejection can be lessened as well.