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New podcast takes listeners inside the immune system

Hosted by Cindy Leifer, professor of immunology at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Vincent Racaniello, professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, and Stephanie Langel, a doctoral candidate in the Food Animal Health Research Program at Ohio State University, 'Immune,' is a new monthly podcast that hopes to increase understanding of everything from antibiotics and vaccines to cancer immunotherapy.

Few understand how our immune system protects us and what happens when it goes awry.

Immune,” a new monthly podcast, hopes to increase understanding of everything from antibiotics and vaccines to cancer immunotherapy.

Hosted by Cindy Leifer, professor of immunology at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Stephanie Langel, a doctoral candidate in the Food Animal Health Research Program at Ohio State University, and Vincent Racaniello, professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, the podcast features the three discussing diseases and therapies from their disciplinary perspectives.

“‘Immune’ explains things in a way that everyone can understand,” said Leifer. “For example, CAR-T cell therapy and checkpoint inhibitors are buzzwords in cancer treatment. Yet I would hazard a guess that few people even know what a T-cell is or why altering it might lead to destruction of tumors. Our podcast will break it down and explain why T-cells are so important in the fight against cancer.”

The first episode, “Some like it hot,” discusses how warm temperatures protect against atherosclerosis – fatty and cholesterol deposits that clog arteries – by regulating monocyte migration. Monocytes are born in the cavities of our bones and when they mature, they enter the blood and circulate throughout the body. During atherosclerosis, the monocytes exit the blood and enter into the tissue surrounding arteries where they eat the fat and induce inflammation and tissue damage.

“A recent study found that when mice were kept at warmer temperatures, the monocytes stayed in the bone marrow after they were mature, did not circulate in the blood, and thus there were fewer in the arteries there was less atherosclerosis,” said Leifer. “The group also found in over 15,000 human blood samples that monocyte numbers in the blood varied with the seasons. In warmer months there were fewer monocytes. The bottom line is that this study provides some mechanisms behind epidemiologic studies that show a correlation between warmer climates and less atherosclerosis. More studies are needed, so for now don’t sell your house and move to Florida.”

Upcoming topics will include cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases and vaccines. ‘Immune’ can be found at www.microbe.tv/immune.

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