Revealing what makes B cells migrate from one organ to another may suggest new treatments for leukemia
The cells of the immune system travel up and down the body’s conduits, seeking out foreign agents of disease. Like crowds of urban pedestrians, they seem to be in constant movement. Prof. Idit Shachar of the Faculty of Biology investigates the travels, “training” and life cycle of white blood cells called B cells. B cells are created in the bone marrow and then migrate to the spleen, where they receive the specialized instruction they need to do their jobs. Only afterwards do they take up their positions in the bloodstream. How do the young B cells know the way from the bone marrow to the spleen? Why don’t they end up anywhere else in the body? In other words, what mechanism directs B cell migration?
Understanding the rules of movement might, for example, enable the development of ways to stop patrolling B cells from continuing on to the lymph nodes, and thus prevent unwanted inflammation.
Following their maturation in the spleen, B cells leave this organ and begin to patrol the body. Shachar is particularly interested in the ways that adult B cells – those in the bloodstream – stay alive. From time to time, they must “gas up” in various places, specifically in the bone marrow. There, they receive a chemical signal that allows them to keep on living and working; without this periodic “recharge,” they are sure to die. A thorough understanding of this process could, in the future, point to new ways of treating leukemia, in which immune cells that should die, don’t.
Prof. Idit Shachar's research is supported by the M.D. Moross Institute for Cancer Research; the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Neurological Diseases; the Kirk Center for Childhood Cancer and Immunological Disorders; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Phyllis and Joseph Gurwin Fund for Scientific Advancement; and Marla L. Schaefer, New York, NY. Prof. Shachar is the incumbent of the Dr. Morton and Anne Kleiman Professorial Chair.
The kingdoms of yesteryear will rise again: the pomp and pageantry, the inherent social organization, the hierarchy and, above all, the ceremonialism. These appear to be expressed in Altar with symbols that seem to reflect the glory of the future as it will look to those even further in the future who study them as history.
Oren Eliav, b. Israel, 1975, lives and works in Tel Aviv. He was awarded the 2010 Rappaport Prize for a Young Israeli Painter by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. His work has also been exhibited extensively in Israel and abroad.