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See How Tough Your Immune System is With "Blood Wars" 119

Thanks to a new art/science exhibition called "Blood Wars," you can find out whose dad has the toughest immune system once and for all. The brainchild of artist Kathy High, "Blood Wars" pits white blood cells from two different people against each other. From the article: "In order to create the blood duel, High gets a phlebotomist to take blood samples from two different people. She then separates the white blood cells from the rest of the blood and stains them using different colors. They are then placed in a Petri dish and their interactions are filmed under a microscope using time-lapse microscopy. The cellular 'winner' of each round will go onto fight another participant."


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See How Tough Your Immune System is With "Blood Wars"

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  • Blood wars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by devxo ( 1963088 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:13AM (#35158648)
    This comes as a weird time for me, as I just a month ago got an autoimmune attack in my system. That is when your own system starts attacking itself thinking theres an enemy. It's usually unknown where or why it hits a person, but I probably got it from some food in south east asia. End result - now 1,5 months in hospital and unable to walk. Doctors aren't yet completely sure what it is, but they're thinking it's Guillain-Barré Syndrome []. Human blood cells attacking itself is some nasty bug. At least my legs and hands still work little bit so I will be able to recover.
    • Re:Blood wars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:46AM (#35158850)
      Best of luck with your recovery.
    • Dude, that's awful. I sincerely wish you a prompt and complete recovery.

      You know, there's one thing that seemed odd to me, you say you probably got it from some food ... I thought such a disease would be either genetic or developmental, but you say you got it through some food. Does it have some kind of viral/bacteriological origin?

      I truly hope you get better, and remember, we can be fucking idiots sometimes, but /.ers do take care of each other. If you are having a hard time and need any kind of help (fina

    • My dad got GBS a few years ago, in a very severe form (for 2-3 months he couldn't even breathe by himself). It took him about a year to return home, and he's still not in perfect shape, and never will be - but he can walk, and he can use the computer just fine. So have faith. Also, you didn't "get it" from anywhere - autoimmune disease are not something you can get infected in, it's just that usually another infection is the catalyst.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I had GBS 4 years ago and I would say that is definitely what you have. They should be able to do a lumber puncture to determine if it is that. I had great fun relearning to breathe for myself again and learning to walk again. Not so easy when you can't feel the floor!

      However I doubt that you got it from some food in south east asia. Neither I, nor anyone in the support group of GBS sufferers that I know have ever been to Asia never mind eaten some food there. Whilst they don't know what causes GBS. N

    • You should definitely enter this contest.
    • At least my legs and hands still work little bit so I will be able to recover.

      Hey, you can visit slashdot, that definitely counts as a blessing :p

      I pray for your speedy recovery.

    • DUDE! You need to compete! Your overaggressive white blood cells would kick ass!

    • Damn. Take care of yourself, hope you recover soon!

    • Yeah they are definitely weird stuff. Some years back I noticed that a patch of skin about 1"x1" was completely devoid of hair. I don't know how it happened or when because it was underneath my beard where it was fairly well hidden but when I noticed it I could see that every single follicle was hairless... "weird" I thought. One day weeks later I notice it is starting to grow back in... hmmm "weirder" I thought. Then about 6 months after that I notice a different patch is starting to lose its hair and the
    • Get well soon mate. It might take a while but it will get better.
  • by muphin ( 842524 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:16AM (#35158666) Homepage
    i wonder if you can retrieve the ultimate winner cells (your cells) and it will boost your immune system? where is the database stored so the cells know which foreign cells to go after, is it the white cells itself or a chemical reaction?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:22AM (#35158700)

      Presumably that would only boost your immunity to humans. And here I thought I couldn't possibly be any more antisocial...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:25AM (#35158716)

        It might make it nearly impossible for you to get a transplant at a later date due to the white bloodcells fighting off the "bad" cells, or worse causing an auto-immune disorder of some kind.... I'll stick to my own cells, not the ones that have been through anti-terrorist training.

    • Imperfect Analogy (Score:5, Informative)

      by Scubaraf ( 1146565 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:45AM (#35158844)
      It doesn't quite work that way, but the answer to your question is that the database is stored in the DNA of immune cells.

      Essentially, the newborn cells of the adaptive immune system (B and T-cells) undergo rearrangements of their DNA to produce a incredibly wide variety of receptors.

      Then, they go through a selection process - if they react strongly with self, they die (negative selection). After a few more maturation and selection steps, the surviving immune cells are sent throughout the body.

      If one of them later binds strongly to something (which is presumably foreign) in the right context, they activate. They trigger an immune response and proliferate. A subset of these daughter cells become essentially immortal - outlasting the immune response they fought in, but ready to quickly mobilize should that foreign substance be encountered again.

      So, the memory cells are the hardware, but the rearranged antigen receptor gene they harbor is the information they need to work.
    • Can't we just do this the old fashion way? Two guys get into a knock-down-drag-out fight and someone else cleans up the blood?
      Person #1: That's a lot of blood. Whose is it?
      Person #2: Does it really matter?
      Person #1: I guess not - as long as it's not mine.
    • i wonder if you can retrieve the ultimate winner cells (your cells) and it will boost your immune system?

      There can be only one!!!!!!!!!

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        Yeah and when there's only one immortal white blood cell left standing, it's impossible to chop its head off ;).
    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

      Um, I thought the "memory" was provided by antibodies, which help tag known intruders and serve as a "rally point" for lymphocytes (white blood cells).

      I suppose white blood cells can eventually figure out for themselves if another cell is a friend or foe, but the presence of antibody tags makes them go into ingest mode much more quickly.

      Without antibodies, I'm guessing the rival white blood cells would spend some time sniffing each other out, and the "more aggressive" one will recognize the other as foreign

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:18AM (#35158674) Journal
    Geeze, what kind of geeks read slashdot these days?
  • There can be only one!~

  • Where do I sign up?
  • In Chuck Norris virus kicks you.

  • This is bloody cool!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    • Creation of People for the Ethical Treatment of Cells
    • Mick Vick goes to prison for breeding and fighting engineered leukocytes
    • In 2016, White Blood Cell matches become a major sport. In 2017, doping allegations nearly destroy the world's newfound passion.
    • Doctors decide to start injecting strong white blood cells into patients with immunodeficiency, only to find that this creates a new form of super cancer.
  • Homeglobus Maximus with a record of 420 wins, 1 tie and no losses. Honorable mention goes to Dopefried Fiend(disqualified doping), and The Crimson Myoglobin. Woe betide to the fallen, competitors one and all.
  • by Aerorae ( 1941752 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @12:49AM (#35158866)

    This may be science, but it's sure not art *I* like.


    • by rta ( 559125 )

      Indeed. Your blood cells are just hanging out patrolling your body and keeping you safe from bad stuff. These people would have you sacrifice them in an arena for no purpose other than entertainment. Even the "winner" blood cells are going to die in the end. I know they're not people, but it still seems like a "mean" thing to do.

      (And yes, i know blood cells die all the time etc. but if i were a blood cell, i wouldn't want to go out like this)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Pussies like you make me sick. Your blood could be out there vying for dominance in the arena and facing down the toughest in the world. It could venture forth into the open world where viruses roam and the very environment could kill it. Instead you want it to sit at home in the couches of your arteries and veins twiddling it thumbs.

        Do something for your species! Send your blood cells out to hunt down those terrorist diseases in their homes! Pre-emptively strike at their very hearts before they bring the w

      • It strikes me that this "art" project could easily be used to try and find people with immune systems to copy... someone out there is probably immune to HIV (or other similar diseases). It would be great to find that person and if it takes gladiatorial blood cell contests to find him, more power to them.
        • by rta ( 559125 )

          That would be different (and i believe such tests already happen a good deal in actual research).

          In this art project they're pitting blood cell against blood cell, not blood cell against things that are actually harmful to humans, so success here doesn't prove anything. Also, given that auto-immune disorders are probably currently a bigger health problem for people than infectious disease, figuring out how to moderate white-cell action is arguably more important than finding the most bad ass ki

    • Unfortunately for you, art critics have a virtually limitless supply of "+1: freaking the mundanes" mods at their disposal.

      As long as the gallery doesn't get firebombed, or the funding cut, outrage=artist cred.
    • by louic ( 1841824 )
      This may be art, but it is certainly not science.
  • I don't mean drug violence or even that one South Park episode, but really this is a great conceptual way to represent aspects of the body in ways people clearly understand. The hazards of obesity, smoking, etc. compared to baseline or especially an above-average person seem to me a clearer way to visualize this versus any shock-factor "shriveled prune" organ approach.
    • I don't mean drug violence or even that one South Park episode, but really this is a great conceptual way to represent aspects of the body in ways people clearly understand. The hazards of obesity, smoking, etc. compared to baseline or especially an above-average person seem to me a clearer way to visualize this versus any shock-factor "shriveled prune" organ approach.

      I am not entirely sure that you mean; that this will be a great individualised service to provide to those who are in need of seeing how compromised their 'immune system' has become (and with 'immune system' too acting as an even more general proxy for their 'overall state of health'). But if you do, I agree, you'd get a very visual and engaging and, I expect, quite an indicative result [you will likely have stronger feelings around wishing this "team" wins than any of the teams you have ever followed/'be

  • Back in the long ago I rented a Commodore PET for a week. It had a game called LifeWar. Each player would draw blobs of bacteria on the screen, and then you'd press a button and the blobs would grow, and change. Eventually, one would consume the other. At the time, I didn't understand what it was all about, but looking back now, it was probably a variant of Conway's game of life with some additional rules for encounters with other strains of cells. If I were to play it now, I could use gliders, and wit
  • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) * on Thursday February 10, 2011 @01:20AM (#35159024) Journal
    Is probably the child of this creature [].
  • OnionSports (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Spectators were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.

  • I'm pretty sure folks will line up to do this, but why would anyone care if one blood strain is tougher than another? I'm not so sure of the upside... Unless there is research money doled out to the participants. Then indeed it is game on.
    • why would anyone care if one blood strain is tougher than another?

      Because then we could analyze the results and see if we could find out WHY some white blood cells are stronger than others?

      Or, after rereading the summary, this is art. There is no "why" in art.

      • Yep, its art. And so there is likely an endless supply of folks ready to take part in the living art. This is because the science of it doesn't matter, you can't change (at least yet) your DNA and white/red/blue/black cells and what they do. When we have rDNA splicing that is legal and folks actually live from it longer than a few hours then maybe this kind of art will become more important to science. Until then, and I hope that is not in my lifetime, we can only laugh at the notion someone is paying f
    • ...but why would anyone care if one blood strain is tougher than another?

      Ever heard of "sport"?

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Never under-estimate the competativeness of people (especially men).

      I might do it if given the chance. I was always sick as a young kid but rarely get sick as an adult. I like to think all those illnesses in my youth gave me a super immune system, what better way to check then a fight to the death?
  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @01:43AM (#35159134)

    - White Blood Cells vs Predator
    - Deadliest Warrior: White Blood Cells or Roman Centurion
    - Jurassic Fight Club: White Blood Cells vs Stegosaurus
  • winner gets to reproduce?
  • Then women should find the winner of this very very attractive. I'm in.

    I'll mail an envelope full of blood right away.

    • The heck with that! Let's settle the question of who is fittest to breed the old fashioned way -- by comparing penis lengths!
  • Is this supposed to be a disguised plot to eventually create a master race of humans? If so, I'm in.
  • What happens here if you get into a paper, scissors, rock situation? This is perfectly possible, yet the algorithm for determining a winner doesn't seem to allow for this possibility. Presumably you just end up in an infinite loop, while the participants end up getting progressively sucked dry with every round. Having said that, this would really mean they are all losers as their immune system failed to anticipate this threat and failed to save the participant as a result.
  • you sign over all your genomic rights to the company.
  • I visited this exhibition last night.

    Interesting stuff, and much more fascinating than repellent. Full marks to the Trinity College students who take you through each exhibit - their enthusiasm added a lot to the experience, particularly for one grounded in engineering rather than life sciences. One of the more interesting pieces was related to the piezoelectric properties of bone. The artist had taken cow bones and turned them into (rather inefficient) speakers.

    Hearing "Old MacDonald had a Bone" played

  • Two blood samples enter; one bloody sample leaves!

    Two blood samples enter; one bloody sample leaves!

  • Separating out the white blood cells and making them fight against each other... geez, what's wrong with these people?!?
  • ...and he didn't use blood.

Bell Labs Unix -- Reach out and grep someone.