The Biology of Biowars: Learn About Lymphocytes
The human body is extraordinarily complex on every level. From its interior to its exterior, trillions of individual processes are taking place — right now, at this very moment — to keep your body running as efficiently as possible.
But before you’re even born, microbes begin their colonization of your body. So even as you reach the 10 trillion cells that make up an average human being, bacteria outnumber them ten to one. Don’t worry too much, however, because many of these microbes are on your side, working in tandem with other microscopic allies to maintain your body’s health.
Be that as it may, the bad guys are large in number, which means every one of your body’s heroes are forced to step up on a moment-by-moment basis to eliminate all kinds of threats. This is where some particularly badass Biowars characters come in to take care of business, namely Blastor, Gamma-9, Humron, Alpha-1, Cid and Syrinx — every one of them battling it out in your body as lymphocytes.
But what the hell are lymphocytes anyway? Read on to find out.
In the Biowars digital comic book, representing part of human biology as the B Cell Biowarriors, are Blastor and Gamma-9, both of which are crafted after the real duties and structures of their scientific counterparts.
As far as B cell lymphocytes go, they get their name from their ability to bind to specific antigens of a particular molecular configuration inside the human body. This is done through their BCR, an acronym for a B cell receptor, which hooks up with molecules and begins engulfing them much like a teenager devours pizza after coming home from football practice. Then, once the antigen is consumed, it’s digested — yep, we said it: digested — into tiny, dissolvable fragments. Yum!
You’ve got to remember that antigens aren’t good for your body, so your B cells are doing you a big favor when they’re breaking down the bad guys. But another really cool thing about B cells is their ability to clone themselves, and create (through mitosis) an exact copy of themselves with identical BCRs — all with the aid of Helper T cells of course.
Like the B Cell Biowarriors, the T Cell heroes also take after their organic equivalents in Humronand Alpha-1. And similar to B cell lymphocytes, T cells also contain identical T cell receptors, or TCRs, on their surfaces.
Originating in the bone marrow alongside B cells, where they eventually migrate to the thymus in order to continue maturing, T cells differ from B cells by not producing antibodies to eliminate antigens, but by lending a hand nonetheless in their total annihilation.
How is this done? Let’s put it this way. Basically they are the commanders of your body’s biological forces in a sense, deploying macrophages to places where infection is occurring, and letting them do the dirty work. That is unless they’re playing the role of a cytotoxic T cell, which gives them a ruthless ability to kill infected cells, damaged cells and cancer cells with equal parts charisma and total brutality.
So now that we’re talking cell killers, you should learn a little bit about NK cells — or the original gangsters of your body’s biology.
Here’s where the Biowarriors Cid and Syrinx enter into the picture. Just like the cytotoxic T cells, NK cells (which will be called by their supremely bad-to-the-bone name Natural Killer cells from this point on) provide rapid-response warfare on cancerous or other types of infectious cells to stop them in their tracks.
As part of the innate immune system, which is Mother Nature’s way of sending a first wave of defense against all sorts of infections, Natural Killer cells limit the spread and damage caused by biological troublemakers.
Like other lymphocytes, Natural Killer cells are also created in your bone marrow. However, unlike T cells, Natural Killer cells develop outside of the thymus. So with B cells being named after the bone marrow where they’re produced, and T cells after the thymus where they mature — how in the world did someone come up with the name for Natural Killer cells? We’re guessing the story probably involves Chuck Norris. That’s all the research we need.
So what would a battle look like between a Natural Killer cell and an unwanted infection? Well, when approaching a targeted cell, Natural Killer cells release chemicals that serve as a breaching charge to a cell’s wall, which essentially bursts that microscopic bad guy’s bubble and ends the battle. Pretty sweet, right?
Like we said, comic book and science fans, Chuck Norris had to be part of this.