The tree of life

Kelin Zhao
Created | 2022

The word thymus means ‘soul’ in Greek, as this relatively obscure organ was believed by ancient Greek scholars to be the seat of the human soul. We now know the thymus plays a vital role in the immune system, selecting and ‘training’ white blood cells called T-cells to recognise and target foreign antigens.

Kelin’s video shows the tree-like network of blood vessels in the thymus through which precursors of T-cells enter the organ. Previous research has shown that cells located around the blood vessels – particularly in the region where the outer cortex meets the inner medulla – are involved in stimulating regeneration of thymic epithelial cells.

By further studying the dynamics of the thymus, Kelin and colleagues hope to identify ways to boost repair and regeneration of thymic function after damage from cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy.