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A Combo offer to deal with Melanoma: Latest Development with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors


Modern Science has experienced huge breakthroughs over the last decades, one of the major ones being the discovery of immune checkpoints and their inhibitors. The checkpoint inhibitors revolutionized the stagnant field of cancer biology and were responsible for the rise of cancer immunotherapies. Immunotherapies command the immune system to destroy tumors by using antibodies against specific immunosuppressive surface receptors. Programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) is one such receptor expressed on T cells that interacts with programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1) present on tumor cells, which leads to inactivation and subsequent anergy (absence of normal immune response) of T cells. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated protein-4 (CTLA-4) is another receptor that is constitutively expressed on regulatory T cells and enhances its role by inhibiting the functions of other T cells and antigen-presenting cells, hence helping tumor growth. Monoclonal antibody treatments targeting these protein receptors are now widely used in clinics and have helped…

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Stopping Malaria at Its Source


Author: Kevin Merchant

This generation has experienced how a novel pathogen can cause a pandemic leading to turmoil, destruction of life, and deterioration of living conditions. What about pathogens that have been in our environments for decades?Malaria, spread by mosquito bites is prevalent throughout the equatorial regions (Sub Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America) and also occurs in temperate zones at lower rates. Unfortunately, we have seen that global warming can shift mosquito habitats by facilitating warm and humid conditions, risking its spread and infection worldwide. Currently, about 229 million cases of Malaria occur every year, leading to ~400,000 deaths worldwide. Symptoms of Malaria include high fever, headaches, intense chills, and in serious cases, jaundice, anemia and even death.

Let us dive into the modus operandi of Malaria and how a vaccine development strategy from Tripathi and group from John Hopkins University can help to curb it.

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Into the unknown: mammalian immunity vs. the deep sea bacteria


Imagine sometime in the distant future we find and colonize an earth-like planet. Makes one wonder, will our immune system retain its capacity to protect us against possibly pathogenic bacteria from that planet? Gauthier et al in their Science Immunology paper set to test the limits of our immune cells using uncommon bacteria and found that a staggering 80% of them were immunosilent, i.e., they did not induce the expected reaction from immune cells.

To obtain obscure microbes (like bacteria from another planet), the researchers dived into the Pacific Ocean and collected bacteria from the depths of 200-3000m; a place where there is neither light nor mammalian life. Procuring bacteria from a remote ecological niche unexposed to any terrestrial life forms was pivotal for testing the limits of our immune cells; neither have deep-sea bacteria evolved in any way to bypass our defenses nor have we specially adapted to counter…

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Are COVID vaccines still safe? Blood clots, the mystery behind them, and the solution.


The light at the end of this dark tunnel (the year 2020) is finally visible, as large scale vaccinations are in progress. Whether one stayed at home or worked endlessly to bring this pandemic to an end, our team work has contributed to end the terror. Unfortunately, a new hurdle arose in the battle against COVID19- the blood clot formation as a side effect of some vaccines. First reports of the blood clots came from Europe where Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine was being administered on a large scale. Despite of being an extremely rare side effect, the occurrences of blood clots promptly led to pauses and changes in vaccination strategies in many EU nations. Recently, Johnson & Johnson vaccines were also found to have a similar side effect (again, extremely rare) in the US too. Both these vaccines are different from the two other titans (Pfizer and Moderna) in their mechanisms…

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Immunology: Bigger than it seems


A World Immunology Day 2021 special post

Immunology is the study of immune cells that are the body’s defense against everything that is foreign and can damage our body. Immune systems have been around for millions of years, protecting all sorts of organisms including plants and bacteria from harm. The field of Immunology has seen a boom in the last 50 years, as the scientific methods have rapidly advanced. Today, 29th of April is World Immunology Day, when we celebrate this highly complex and constantly developing field.

Immunology and microbiology have gone hand in hand as modern science was developing. It stems from questions of what truly happens after germs enter our body. Development of Vaccines is considered one of the biggest achievements of mankind, wherein the marriage of these two disciplines has saved millions of lives, and continues doing so. Today, we know a lot more about whats and…

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A Mother’s Shield of Protection: The Maternal Immunity


“A mother’s love is like a fortress, And we seek protection there,

When the waves of tribulation, Seem to drown us in despair.”

Helen Steiner Rice

We as newborn infants depend on our mother for nurture and protection. A mother loves unconditionally and protects us not just from physical threats, but also biological threats. Today, on the account of Mother’s Day, we will talk about the immunity that mothers pass down to their children to protect them from various threats of the outside world.

The placenta is a vital part of a mother’s safe womb which selectively transfers required nutrients and other materials to sustain and grow the fetus. At the end of the 9 months, it is time for the fetus to leave this safe environment and enter the real world, which is full of all kinds of dangers, including microorganisms that may cause harmful infections and diseases.


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Alteration of Immune Metabolism Restores Memory at Old Age


What is a scary but perpetual process that every living organism goes through? Ageing! We become aware of it from a very young age– looking at people growing older, having reduced quality of life, and forgetting things. We have always flirted with the idea of youth till death through works of art, whether it is mythology, literature, or films. Scientists have been working towards understanding the aging process and increasing the longevity of human life since the dawn of medicine. And they have succeeded to a large extent! Today, the average world life expectancyis almost double of what it used to be in a century ago.

When we talk about increasing the years of a human’s life, we barely give attention to immune cells. Today we are going to look at how aging affects the immune metabolism of brain cells leading to their reduced function, and the potentiality of…

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Global Warming Impact Not Only Our Environment, But Also Our Health


Picture credits: CNN

COVID may have been terrible for humanity but was beneficial for our earth. Despite of countless calls to action from scientists and activists alike, the human race failed to make the strides necessary to stop global warming from progressing to irreversible levels, resulting in increased frequency of natural disasters and diseases. The earth was recovering (or should we say ‘was in remission’) during the pandemic which was observed by the improving air quality in cities, making some deniers realize the consequence of our exploitations. But the fight against global warming is not over- it will go on for decades to say the least.

Global warming refers to a steady increase in the overall temperature of our atmosphere over time mostly due to the greenhouse effect. Global warming has led to increased temperatures which continues to have massive implications on complex systems like our bodies and our immune…

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