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Understanding immune cells with fruit flies

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Scientists have taken a step further in understanding how immune cells enter body tissue to fight infections, by studying fruit fly embryos.

Researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA - with video), and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), in Heidelberg, Germany, exploited the transparent nature of fruit flies and used high-end microscopes, to make their observations.

The scientists showed how groups of immune cells, called macrophages, searched for the right place to enter cell-dense tissue. At this moment, the tissue cell confronting the macrophages divides , and the macrophages find a way in.

"Cell division being the key process that controls macrophage infiltration is really a very elegant concept with powerful implications," Professor Daria Siekhaus, of ISTA, said.

Three motivated students from Klosterneuburg High School, Austria, were also part of the team following a school visit to the ISTA laboratories.

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