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When archaelogists find an ancient scroll they work hard to solve the puzzle and shed new light on ancient history. Our scientists are no different! Join them as they reveal the mysteries that they have uncovered by studying current and ancient diseases.
Tumours escaping immune attack: catching them in the act
Krijn Dijkstra (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Francis Crick Institute)
Our immune cells can nip many small cancers in the bud before causing us harm, but cancer cells are engaged in a constant game of hide and seek to escape our immune cells. Krijn grows ‘mini-tumours’ directly in the lab, as a direct copy of a patient’s tumour. By challenging them with immune cells, he can catch hiding cancer cells to find out how they manage to escape immune attack.
The Journey of a cancer cell
Alicia L. Bruzos (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Francis Crick Institute)
Did you know that some cancers are contagious, jumping from one organism to another? Luckily for us, these transmissible cancers occur in some organisms like Tasmanian devils and marine bivalves and don’t really affect humans, but human cancers can spread from one part of our body to another in a process called metastasis. By studying transmissible cancers, we can shed light on how cancer cells metastasise, how they have evolved to move around, and what the limitations of this trip are. Join Alicia to find out more about the expedition of of contagious cancer.
Pathogens, Plagues and Prehistory
Pooja Swali (PhD Student, Francis Crick Institute)
This is not the first time our species has been plagued by diseases and pandemics. Evidence of infectious diseases is littered throughout historic literature, art and text. A small handful of these diseases even go as far as leaving visual evidence on bones, only to be uncovered by archaeologists thousands of years later. Pooja will explain to us how she uses ancient DNA from human remains to identify remnants of the oldest plague in Britain to help uncover how diseases have evolved and spread in a world prior to planes and trains.