Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Little Helpers
23 June 2018

Little Helpers

You are an island. A contained, densely-packed ecosystem on (and in) which countless species live and die. Millions of microbes crowd over every inch of your skin; some harmful, some helpful, and some harmless passengers along for the ride. Researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the beneficial role this microbiome can play, but how it interacts with our immune system is still something of a mystery. To investigate, a study analysed how immune cells around a wound (pictured, with white/pink hairs protruding over the injured void, surrounded by green immune cells) responded to a skin microbe Staphylococcus epidermis. Rather than a nuisance, it seems these microbes handily prompt the production of special T cells (other members of the immune system) that specialise in tissue healing and wound defence. Mimicking these bacteria’s talent for boosting the body’s wound-recovery machinery might lead to new treatments for skin injuries and damaged tissues.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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