The immune system : looking for love in all the right places

The immune system : looking for love in all the right places

Professor Brewer has studied the immune system throughout his career and remained fascinated by it. While working in vaccine research, it became increasingly clear to him how little we understand this critical part of the body. His exploration of the immune system over the past 25 years has taken him into areas as diverse as arthritis, malaria and asthma, and his research has been enhanced by the development of innovative advanced imaging techniques.

Your immune system produces millions of cells called lymphocytes. These vital cells protect you against disease by specifically recognising and eliminating infections and other ‘invaders’ in the body. Each lymphocyte is specific for something, and that could be an invader such as malaria or measles, but there are many others that react to more common everyday substances such as grass pollen, your joints, or cornflakes!


Each lymphocyte doesn’t know what its target looks like, so how does a lymphocyte find its ‘partner’ in amongst the millions of potential suitors in your body and in your environment? It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Using advanced imaging techniques we can see this cellular dating game in action, and understand how the immune system is optimised to enable these brief encounters, allowing them to develop into long term relationships.

You can view his talk The Immune System : Looking for Love in all the Right Places here