THE CANCER WARRIOR
Think of your immune system as the hero in an action-packed blockbuster. It exists to protect your body from harmful invaders.
It is made up of two lines of defence: the innate and the adaptive immune systems.
The innate and the adaptive immune systems work together to protect us from germs and cancer. The innate immune system is fast acting and kick-starts the adaptive immune response; however, the innate immune system does not provide long-lasting protection. The second line of defence, the adaptive immune system, provides lifelong immunity; it “remembers” germs or cancers so that it can protect your body against similar attacks in the future.
If the immune system is the cancer warrior, then T-cells are the key weapons in its arsenal. They attack and destroy cells that are infected. Each bears its own unique crest called the T-cell receptor that has the ability to recognize different parts of an enemy.
A specialized cell that initiates an immune response and directs the immune response against certain kinds of viruses or cancers. It picks up and processes pathogens or tumour cells so that T-cells can become activated to kill these targets.
Alerting T-cells to a Threat
In order for T-cells to be activated, the dendritic cell finds and processes an enemy in a format that the T-cell can recognize through its T-cell receptor.
Multiply the T-cell Army
Once activated, T-cells multiply in order to attack and destroy the threat.
Once the infected cells are terminated, the germs die along with them. T-cells can work in a similar way to kill cancer cells.
End of the T-cell Response
Once the threat is gone, some of those T-cells convert to “memory T-cells” and stay in the body. The next time the body encounters another threat, these memory T-cells are ready to rapidly destroy it. This is how some vaccinations work.
INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM
A group of cells that are rapidly alerted after an infection to start the immune response.
ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM
A group of highly specialized cells, including T-cells, which can eliminate or prevent a viral or bacterial infection or fight against cancer cells.