Tuesday, January 22, 2013

NEWS: Video Game - Immune Attack

Here is a great game to help you learn English about the immune system.

You must navigate a nanobot through a 3D environment of blood vessels and connective tissue in an attempt to save an ailing patient by retraining her non-functional immune cells. Along the way, you will learn about the biological processes that enable macrophages and neutrophils – white blood cells – to detect and fight infections.

About Immune Attack

Immune Attack is educational computer game about the immune system and the cells involved in fighting a bacterial infection. The content is geared for senior level high school biology and first year university biology.

The game’s storyline revolves around a girl who is confined indoors because she has a present yet nonfunctional immune system. Without active immune cells, exposure to bacteria and other pathogens in the outside world would quickly kill her. With the help of nanotechnology, users must activate specific immune cells so her body can fight infection and allow her to live a normal life.

To play the game, users control a microscopic robot (the nanobot explorer) to navigate through a first‐person 3D body, completing a series of increasingly sophisticated missions to detect a bacterial infection and activate the appropriate defensive immune cells. These stepwise missions follow the actual biological process that occurs during an infection and how immune cells are stimulated to kill the bacteria.

Learning Objectives:

By working through the missions in Immune Attack, students will gain direct knowledge on the following functions of the immune system:
  1. The role of macrophages and neutrophils in the immune system, including:
    • that they are the body’s first responders to infection
    • that they fight bacterial infections
    • that they “eat” bacteria (phagocytosis)
  2. The process of transmigration of monocytes, including:
    • that monocytes flow in the blood vessels
    • that selectins help monocytes “slow down”
    • that ICAMs help monocytes to “stop”
    • that ICAMs help monocytes to move through the blood vessel wall and into the connective tissue
    • that once a monocyte has entered the connective tissue, it is known as a macrophage
  3. How the body uses chemical signals to find the site of infection, including:
    • that macrophages and neutrophils find the site of infection by following a chemical trail
    • that macrophages follow a chemical trail of C3a
  4. How the body uses markers to recognize enemies, including:
    • how macrophages and neutrophils recognize LPS as an indicator of bacteria
  5. How macrophages “call” neutrophils for “back up”:
    • by releasing a chemical signal of CXCL8 molecules

Word List:
  • pathogen: a thing that causes disease
  • nanotechnology: the branch of technology that deals with structures that are less than 100 nanometres long.
  • macrophage: a large cell that is able to remove harmful substances from the body, and is found in blood and tissue
  • neutrophil: the white blood cell doing most of the work in collecting and taking in stray and foreign matter
  • phagocytosis: the engulfing (to surround) and usually the destruction of particulate matter by phagocytes
  • transmigration: movement of leukocytes through the endothelium
  • monocyte: a type of large white blood cell with a simple round nucleus that can remove harmful substances from the body
  • selectin: any of a family of sugar-binding lectins that are found on the surface of cells (as endothelial cells and white blood cells) and that promote their adhesion to other cells and mediate their migration to sites of inflammation
  • ICAM: Intercellular Adhesion Molecules
  • C3a: stimulates mast cell degranulation, thus triggering an immune response.
  • LPS: Lipopolysaccharides, and act as endotoxins and elicit strong immune responses
  • CXCL8: Interleukin 8 (also labeled IL-8) is a chemokine produced by macrophages and other cell types such as epithelial cells
Pronunciation practice MP3
= pathogen [path·o·gen]
= nanotechnology [na·no·tech·nol·o·gy]
= macrophage [mac·ro·phage]
= neutrophil [neu·tro·phil]
= bacterial [bac·te·ri·al]
= infection [in·fec·tion]
= phagocytosis [pha·go·cy·to·sis]
= monocyte[mo·no·cyte]
= selectin [se·lec·tin]