T-cells are a type of white blood cell which functions with macrophages. As a subtype of the white blood cells, T-cells play a vital role in your immune system as it helps fight viruses as well as cancer. After their production in the bone marrow, the T-cells mature and develop in the thymus (an organ in the chest). Once they are mature, T-cells are present in the lymph nodes and in the blood.
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Different Kinds of T-Cells
The two main types of T-cells include the Killer T-cells and Helper T-cells. The former function by destroying cells that are infected. On the other hand, the Helper T-cells work by coordinating the attack. As mentioned, the Killer T-cells locate and destroy cells which have been infected and converted into factories for virus production. To achieve this, these T-cells first identify the difference between the healthy and infected cells with the assistance of antigens. As a result, the Killer T-cells are in a position to identify and destroy the cells with viruses.
During this process, antigens function like the identification tags which provide information to the immune system about intruders. Healthy cells have ‘self-antigens’ on their membrane surfaces thus making it possible for the T-cells to know that such cells aren’t intruders. When a cell has been infected by a virus, pieces of antigens will be found on their surfaces. This acts as a signal for the Killer T-cell that the cell with antigen on its surface should be destroyed.
Another type of T-cell is the Helper T-cell. The function of this cell is not to produce toxin or fight intruders. Instead, the Helper T-cells act more like team coordinators. Helper T-cells utilize chemical messages to instruct the cells of the immune system. Such instructions go a long way in helping the Killer T-cells produce more of themselves to fight the infection.
When the Helper T-cells send a signal, it alerts its matched Killer T-cell that a virus is present. Once the infected cell is identified and killed by the Killer T-cell, the Helper T-cell informs the Killer T-cell to make an army of itself.
T-cell and Cancer
In addition to their action on viruses, T-cells play a vital role in fighting cancer. It can be quite challenging to discuss cancer especially when it comes to cancers such as lymphoma. However, to understand how the T-cells function as far as the fight against cancer is concerned, it is important to look at it in terms of the Killer T-cells and Helper T-cells. In fighting cancer, the T-cells functions both directly and indirectly. The Killer T-cells, more specifically, kill the cancer cells directly. They do so by locating the cells and killing them or they may be stimulated to get rid of the cancer cells. On the other hand, the Helper T-cells help to fight cancer indirectly as they are responsible for organizing and orchestrating the fight against the cells. If you want to find out more about T-cells and cancer, you can learn from Poseida Therapeutics by contacting them.
The role of T-cells in the human body cannot be underestimated. In addition to fighting viruses, the T-cells can help in fighting stubborn cancer cells. The Killer T-cells and Helper T-cells all coordinate towards achieving this goal.
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