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How 'Spider-Man' and 'Pac-Man' immune cells team up to fight invasive bacteria
By Nicoletta Lanese about 11 hours ago
In the ultimate superhero crossover, Spider-Man-like immune cells sling webs to capture invasive bacteria and keep those supervillains restrained until Pac-Man-like cells come to gobble them up, a new study shows.
The research was conducted in mice and mouse cells, but it still may help to explain how these "Spider-Man" cells, called neutrophils, fight off infections in humans and why they sometimes fail. It turns out, these spidey cells may not work well in people with autoimmune conditions, such as lupus, making those individuals more susceptible to staph infections, the study authors wrote.
When a staph infection first begins to take hold in the body, our friendly neighborhood neutrophils swoop in as first responders to help fight the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, senior author Eric Skaar, director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation in Nashville, Tennessee, told Live Science. These neutrophils have a secret weapon: They can self-destruct and eject a sticky web from their ruptured membranes. This web, called a neutrophil extracellular trap (NET), contains neutrophil DNA studded with proteins that degrade bacteria.
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