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The Immune System: Friend or Foe?

This event will be live streamed
Past event - 2020
09 Sep 9pm to 10pm
UK time
Live, YouTube,
Online Your Home
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Standard Free
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Science going
It's live Show 9 and we tonight we are with our team in Cambridge who are showing different aspects of the immune system which usually protects us from infection through various lines of defence.

Register to get a link to view the show, even after the live stream has finished.

Stopping viruses in their tracks

Dr Harriet Groom (Visiting research fellow, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge)
With viruses in the news every day as I write this, I don't need to convince you that we need to be able to combat them. To stop viruses, we need to understand them. I will use HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and SARS-CoV-2, the cause of our current COVID-19 pandemic, to get you to think about how we can prevent viruses from causing disease/death. I’ll use two examples of how our bodies have evolved to limit this relatively young virus and talk about how studying these features of our cells can lead to exciting new discoveries and potential for personalised medicine. See you there!

Browsing the diagnostics menu for gluten: a better test for coeliac disease?

Dr Elizabeth Soilleux (Senior Lecturer in Pathology, University of Cambridge)
The two current ways to diagnose coeliac disease are relatively ineffective and require patients to eat gluten. “Gold standard” duodenal biopsies require endoscopy, are expensive and subjective. Blood tests fare better, but still lack sensitivity.
A white blood cell, the T-lymphocyte, causes coeliac disease. Uniquely each developing lymphocyte alters part of its DNA determining what the cell binds and responds to. We reasoned that looking at T-lymphocyte DNA sequences by carefully designed mathematical means might provide a new and better way to diagnose coeliac disease. This was a success!

Growing old on the inside: novel links between gut bacteria and ageing

Dr Marisa Stebegg (Kymab & Visiting Scientist at the Babraham Institute)
Our gut harbours hundreds of different types of bacteria, fungi and viruses - all collectively referred to as our gut microbiota or gut flora. These organisms living within us are essential for our health, impacting metabolism and brain functions as well as our immune system. New data also revealed striking links between ageing and age-associated changes in the gut flora. This talk will explore how the composition of the gut microbiota changes with age, how this affects our immune system and how poo transplantation can potentially help to rejuvenate the gut, at least in mice.

Home invasion: a tale of human pregnancy

Anna Arutyunyan (PhD student, University of Cambridge and Wellcome Sanger Institute)
Can genetically different individuals coexist in one body? Yes, and they do in pregnancy! Successful pregnancy requires the baby to be sly and elegant when invading into the mother not to be rejected by maternal immune police, and the maternal side needs to carefully regulate such invasion and provide enough nutrition for the baby. It is therefore a very finely tuned and fragile balance at the interface that we are only now starting to understand...

Creative Reactions

Creative Reactions was formed when a group of scientists and artists got together and thought it would be amazing if creatives could meet with the scientists from the Pint of Science festival. We are proud to present the sixth Cambridge Creative Reactions science-art exhibition, and the very first online display. Local creatives have responded to the speakers from this live show and their work can be seen in the virtual exhibition.

Despite dramatic changes to the landscape of how we collaborate and interact, a dedicated collection of artists from Cambridge have explored novel ways of collaboration to produce artworks in response to current science on the immune system.

This exhibition would not be possible without the work of equally dedicated volunteers, including Colleen Rollins, Tejasvini Chalikonda, Miriam Lisci, Martha Irene, and Karen Jinks.

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