Latest News » Researchers closer to understanding how the immune system forms

Scientists are learning more about the immune system.

Scientists are learning more about the immune system.

The immune system is a complex network within the body, one that is charged with protecting us from all manner of internal and external threats. However, in some cases, our body’s natural defenses can turn against us – as with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis – or we simply don’t have the strength to ward off a particular virus or cancerous cell. It is for this reason that researchers have continued to investigate the workings of the immune system in order to enhance its abilities or reverse a damaging pattern.

Recently, researchers from Lund University in Sweden and Oxford University in the United Kingdom made substantial headway in this area. According to a university press release, scientists discovered just how early our immune systems actually start to form.

“Knowledge of this is important because it helps us to understand how and when our immune system begins to form and what can go wrong in that process,” Lund University postdoctoral fellow Charlotta Böiers explained.

Using an animal model, Böiers and her colleagues found that the foundation to the immune system could start to form as early as five weeks into a pregnancy, even before the development of the first blood stem cells. Though they did not determine the exact cells, the scientists expressed optimism about how this discovery could pave the way to better understand conditions like leukemia that typically affect children, thereby enabling for more effective treatments. This could apply to a number of ailments that affect brain health and physical ability.