1. Parsing cell types by mass

Flow cytometry identifies cell types by reading fluorophore-bound antibodies attached to identifying cell markers, but the technique is limited by the 6 to 10 colors that can be detected without overlap. Researchers have now adapted the mass spectrometer, usually used for identifying composition of a chemical compound, for this task by tagging antibodies with easily detectable elemental isotopes. The method allows researchers to tag cells with up to 100 different markers at once, potentially revolutionizing the precision with which cell lineages are tracked, and with possible applications in biomarker development.

S.C. Bendall et al., "Single-cell mass cytometry of differential immune and drug responses across a human hematopoietic continuum,"Science, 332:687-96, 2011. Free F1000 Evaluation

2. Locally expanding macrophages

Rather than drawing macrophages from the blood, the immune system can activate their rapid proliferation at the site of injury or infection....

S.J. Jenkins et al., "Local macrophage proliferation, rather than recruitment from the blood, is a signature of TH2 inflammation," Science, 332:1284-48, 2011. Free F1000 Evaluation

3. Influenza’s Achilles’ heel

The influenza virus is typically skilled at evading immune surveillance, but scientists have identified ten lab-made antibodies that effectively neutralize all group 1 influenza viruses tested, including H5N1 “bird flu” and the H1N1 “Spanish flu.” The antibodies bind an obscure but highly conserved region of the viruses. Once bound, they cannot change their shape to fuse with the membrane of a target cell, thus preventing infection.

J. Sui et al., “Structural and functional bases for broad-spectrum neutralization of avian and human influenza A viruses,” Nat Struct Mol Biol, 16:265-73, 2009. Free F1000 Evaluation

4. Anti-inflammatories for cancer

The cells in the mouse pancreas that secrete digestive enzymes into the gut are resistant to many cancer-causing insults, but may become cancerous if exposed to chronic bouts of inflammation, suggesting that anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful for preventing the risk of cancer in patients with mild pancreatitis.

C. Guerra, et al., "Pancreatitis-induced inflammation contributes to pancreatic cancer by inhibiting oncogene-induced senescence," Cancer Cell, 19:728-39, 2011. Free F1000 Evaluation

5. A century of immunity

Nearly 90 years after the outbreak of the 1918 Spanish flu, survivors of the pandemic still carry functional antibodies against the virus in their blood, demonstrating the longevity of immunological memory in humans. What’s more, these antibodies are able to protect mice from lethal infection with the reconstructed 1918 virus.

X. Yu et al., “Neutralizing antibodies derived from the B cells of 1918 influenza pandemic survivors,” Nature, 455:532-36, 2008. Free F1000 Evaluation

6. Macrophages get suppressive

Macrophages express a molecule (Foxp3) that is used to identify regulatory T cells, giving these innate immune cells a suppressive role in immunity  that promoted tumor growth in animal models and could have implications in autoimmune and infectious diseases.

S. Zorro Manrique et al., "Foxp3-positive macrophages display immunosuppressive properties and promote tumor growth," J Exp Med, 208:1485-99, 2011. Free F1000 Evaluation

7. Typing your gut

Genomic data from 22 human gut samples from four countries, combined with previously sequenced gut metagenomes,  reveal three gut microbe-types that appear independent of environmental or genetic factors, and that can be distinguished by concentration of bacterial genus.  The different types can affect what nutrients the microbes make available to the host.

M. Arumugam et al., "Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome," Nature, 473:174-80, 2011. Free F1000 Evaluation

The F1000 Top 7 is a snapshot of the highest ranked articles from a 14-day period on Faculty of 1000 Immunology, as calculated on Aug 01, 2011. Faculty Members evaluate and rate the most important papers in their field. To see the latest rankings, search the database, and read daily evaluations, visit


Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?