Giving Compass' Take:

• Marc Airhart reports that new video reveals how T-cells are trained in the thymus, creating an opportunity for further study of these cells. 

• What role can funders play in advancing this research? 

• Learn how to find and fund scientific research

For the first time, researchers have captured on video what happens when T-cells undergo a type of assassin-training program before they get unleashed in the body.

T cells are the contract killers of the immune system, responsible for wiping out bacteria and viruses.

The new imaging technique that allowed researchers to capture the videos holds promise for the fight against autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes.

One of the human body’s most potent weapons against many diseases is the T-cell, but in people with autoimmune disorders, T-cells also wreak havoc by mistaking normal cells for invaders and attacking healthy parts of the body.

“T-cells have the daunting task of recognizing and fighting off all of the diverse pathogens that we encounter throughout our lives, while avoiding attacking our own healthy tissue,” says study author Lauren Ehrlich, an associate professor of oncology at the University of Texas at Austin.

“These cells mature in the thymus, an organ just above the heart, where they ‘get educated’ to not attack the body,” she says.

Ehrlich says studying T-cells with this new imaging technique holds promise for improvements for human health that will depend on a better understanding of what’s happening in the thymus.

Read the full article about T-cells by Marc Airhart at Futurity.