Jail strike over cuts
PRISON officers across NSW are striking over job cuts and unsafe working conditions, with their union claiming lives are at risk.
The industrial action kicked off at Long Bay jail yesterday morning, and by midday, the Public Service Association estimated up to 900 staff had walked off the job.
The PSA’s Prison Officers Vocational Branch chair Nicole Jess warned the number may reach 4000 as staff at Goulburn, Berrima, Silverwater and Dillwynia prisons held stop-work meetings and began to strike. SCIENTISTS have discovered that a large population of cells, once discarded as the “bad apples” of the immune system, could actually be the body’s secret weapon against diseases like HIV.
For the past three decades health authorities thought that antibodies known as B cells – a type of immune cell – had no purpose and were actually dangerous, causing auto-immune disorders. Because of this, the “harmful antibodies” appeared to have been silenced.
But it turns out they may not be so useless and detrimental after all, immunologist and molecular geneticist Professor Chris Goodnow says.
In a world first, scientists at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research have shown in mouse models that B cells can provide crucial protection against invading and harmful microbes produced by viruses.
Professor Goodnow, who co-led the research with Associate Professor Daniel Christ, says the new findings mark a major step in the understanding of how the immune system works to fight disease.
He says it will change current thinking about how the immune system provides protection.
“We once thought that harmful antibodies were discarded by the body – like a few bad apples in the barrel – and no one had any idea that you could start with a ‘bad’ antibody and make it good,” Professor Goodnow said.
The study is published in leading journal Science. Researchers tracked the movement of B cells over time using mice vaccinated with a foreign threat. Initially, the B cells binded to good “self” proteins but over time increasingly started binding to the foreign proteins to neutralise them, explained the paper’s first author Deborah Burnett.
It’s hoped this new understanding could lead to the development of vaccines for HIV and other diseases.