Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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2020 Koch Institute Image Awards Seeing Vaccines

Finding out which vaccine molecules are best at entering the immune system

14 May 2020

Seeing Vaccines

Lymph nodes are the ‘training centres’ for the immune system, where immune cells learn to recognise and respond to unwanted invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Vaccines take advantage of this training system, introducing harmless substances derived from disease-causing organisms (known as antigens) into the body, which teach immune cells to spot the disease when we encounter it for real. But this approach only works if enough antigen gets into the lymph nodes to mount an effective response. This image is a composite of more than 1,200 lymph nodes from mice, which have been labelled in a way that reveals the amount of antigen each one has received, with red being more and blue being less. Using techniques like this will help researchers to identify antigens that trigger the most potent immune responses and develop new vaccines for diseases that we can’t currently protect against, such as HIV and cancer.

Written by Kat Arney

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