Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Inspector Number Nine

Image found here.

Remember when your mom would buy your underpants in those plastic packages containing at least three pair? Or at Christmastime when your Aunt Zelda would give you the underwear jackpot - seven pairs of day of the week underwear? When you would rip open the package, a little tag would drop out. The tag was a small white slip of paper that simply said: inspected by number nine. Or seven, or twelve, or whatever.

And yes, to publicly admit my weirdness, as a child I used to envision a giant number nine critically examining underpants one by one all day long. He had long black plastic arms and Mickey Mouse style white gloves. He would snap that waistband and tug at the seams. Imperfect panties were tossed into a garbage bin, never to be seen again.

Come to think of it, as a child, Inspector Number Nine seemed huge and the underpants very small in my imagination. Now, as an adult, the imaginary underpants have gotten considerably larger, and good old Inspector Number Nine seems much smaller in comparison.

Hm. Not going there. Back to reality:

I thought about my Inspector when I read a summary of a recent study completed and published by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. Their research found that even in healthy individuals, potential autoimmunity-inducing cells can be found:

As antibody-producing B cells develop in the bone marrow, the body tests them to determine whether their antigen receptors are apt to confuse self tissues for intruders. If so, their receptors are either rearranged to make new, non-autoreactive versions-a process called 'receptor editing'-or the cells are killed off while still in the bone marrow. Yet a minority manages to escape, slipping into the body as mature B cells with a propensity for self-attack.
What does this mean for autoimmune patients? Probably that a great deal more research is needed to explain why our bodies' testing mechanism allows far more flawed B cells to escape detection than those people without autoiummune disease.

Personally, I think that our bodies need Inspector Number Nine checking out those antigen receptors.

1 comment:

Vicky said...


What do the Anti-SSB and Anti-SSA numbers mean? You explain things how I can understand them :)