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Top Story

Confronted with bacteria, infected cells die so others can live

The immune system is constantly performing surveillance to detect foreign organisms that might do harm. But pathogens, for their part, have evolved a number of strategies to evade this detection, such as secreting proteins that hinder a host’s ability to mount an immune response. In a new study, a team of researchers has identified a "back-up alarm" system in host cells that responds to a pathogen’s attempt to subvert the immune system. The findings address the longstanding question of how a host can generate an immune response to something that is designed to shut off that very response. A potential future application of this new understanding may enable the cell-death pathway triggered by bacteria to be harnessed in order to target tumor cells and encourage their demise.

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