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Illustration highlighting the human thymus © Nerthuz - Shutterstock
Illustration highlighting the human thymus

A study from Oxford and Basel universities may point the way to maintaining our immune systems as we get older. In a paper in the journal Nature Immunology, scientists explain how they uncovered the effects of a protein called Foxn1, which is a critical factor in the development of an effective immune system.

Humans, like all higher animals, use T cells as part of the immune system, to fight off infections and cancer. T cells are generated in an organ called the thymus, where they closely interact with thymic epithelial cells (TEC) as they mature. People without TEC cannot generate T cells, severely compromising the immune system and consequently increasing the risk for life threatening infections and cancer.

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