A Vax Seen: Scanning Lymph Nodes for Signs of Antigen

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a grid of colorful organs organized in a radial rainbow

Jacob T. Martin, Ben Cossette, Darrell J. Irvine

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a grid of colorful organs organized in a radial rainbow

Jacob T. Martin, Ben Cossette, Darrell J. Irvine
Koch Institute at MIT

The objects seen here are lymph nodes – organs where immune cells learn how to respond to health threats. The Irvine Lab studies ways to target delivery of antigens and other biological training materials to the lymph nodes so that the immune system can best make use of them.

This imaging experiment allows researchers to "see" the amount of antigen (red = more, blue = less) that gets into each lymph node, helping to identify the most effective vaccination approaches. These findings could aid in the design of new technologies for diseases that do not yet have working vaccines, such as HIV and cancer.