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February 18 2013

False memories prime immune system for future attacks


IN A police line-up, a falsely remembered face is a big problem. But for the body's police force the immune system false memories could be a crucial weapon.

When a new bacterium or virus invades the body, the immune system mounts an attack by sending in white blood cells called T-cells that are tailored to the molecular structure of that invader. Defeating the infection can take several weeks. However, once victorious, some T-cells stick around, turning into memory cells that remember the invader, reducing the time taken to kill it the next time it turns up.

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