Position of the thymus in the human body. Cancer Research UK, Wikimedia Commons
Regeneration of an immune system’s organ by the molecule BMP4

The thymus – an important organ of the immune system – can recover astonishingly quickly from damage, for example by chemotherapy. A study described in Science Immunology reports that this is made possible by BMP4, a protein that is synthesised within the thymus and switches on a genetic development and repair programme. However, thymic regeneration fades with age, and limits the production of T cells that attack cancer cells. A better understanding of thymus regeneration may lead to increased thymic repair and sustained activity in elderly people, and thus enhance immune function to eliminate cancer cells.

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Scientific publication: http://immunology.sciencemag.org/