In 1960, Australian immunologist Frank Burnet won a Nobel Prize for his contributions to immunology. Etsuko Uno and colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, explain Burnet's clonal selection theory in an animation of the body's response to Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacterium that causes strep throat. Proteins from the invader enter the lymph node and grab the attention of one of billions of B cells. That B cell then clones itself thousands of times and sends antibodies via the bloodstream to the infection site. There, the antibodies bind to the strep bacteria, acting as a red flag that alerts other immune system cells to destroy the infectious agent. "We hope that the animation will pique people's interest in how the immune system works and that they will appreciate the impact of Burnet's clonal selection theory on our understanding of the immune system," Uno says.
Credit: Etsuko Uno and Drew Berry, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research