Maya's Marvellous Medicine

Page 1

Written by Adrian Liston

Illustrated by Tenmei

This book was written for Hayden, my kind-hearted son. You bring me joy and laughter every day. I could not have asked for a more thoughtful work-from-home colleague during the COVID lockdown than my gentle boy. Thank you for all the fruit platters and the science-fact-of-the-week! Your Daddy.

To Fabrizia, a fantastic scientist and friend, TM.


Prof. Adrian Liston is a biomedical researcher at the Babraham Institute and Churchill College (University of Cambridge), specialising in immunology and genetics. Dr. Sonia Agüera-Gonzalez (Tenmei) is an illustrator and outreach educator, previously a biomedical researcher in cancer and immunology.

All the authors’s proceeds will go towards the support of research into the immune system and public engagement on immunology and vaccination.

Daddy, is this going to hurt? Not much Maya.

Vaccines are the most marvellous medicines, they just hurt for a second, then, they protect you from horrible diseases for your entire life.

Back in the olden days, before vaccines were invented, infectious diseases spread

from person to person, making everyone really sick.

To make vaccines, scientists take the microbes that cause diseases, then break them up into little pieces that can't hurt you. When the doctor injects them into you, your immune system sees them, and practises on them.

getting strong, stronger... and stronger...

It is just like that time you practised for the running race at school, Remember how everyone thought Hallie would win the race, because she was the tallest? But you practised and practised and got faster and faster.

While Hallie thought she was the fastest and never practised

All the practise paid off, and you won!

A vaccine lets the immune system practise and get super-strong, so that when you get a disease your immune system is superpowerful and defeats it before you get sick.

But how does the immune system practise?

Good question Maya!

In our blood we have special little cells, a lot like tiny robots, called B cells and T cells.

For every nasty microbe that could infect us, there is a special B cell and T cell that know how to battle it.

When the broken up bits of microbe are injected into us, other cells called dendritic cells sniff the clues and sounds the alarm.

Intruder, intruder!

Are we there yet?

Yay! It is our big day!

Every T cell and B cell pair has its own special talent for fighting different microbes. The dendritic cell shows the clues to all the T cells and B cells, until it finds the special pair that can defeat the nasty microbe in the vaccine

Maybe next time...

Special Power: Multiply!

Years later, when you least expect it, the nasty microbe gets into your body and tries to make you sick.

Stop right there! We won’t let you pass!

Yeah? You and whose army?

This is not a drill, this is not a drill!

Team Vaccine, activate!

Smoke me a kipper...

See how you like these antibodies!

The microbe doesn’t stand a chance, because the immune system has already practised the battle on the virus.

That’s it, one small needle and you are protected for life.

Thank you for getting me vaccinated Daddy.

My favourite part is that my immune system is now super-strong, so I won’t get sick. But my favourite, favourite part is getting to have ice cream afterwards.

VIB is a life sciences research institute in Flanders, Belgium. Through the “Grand Challenges Program”, the VIB seeks to increase the societal impact of VIB research. The University of Leuven, founded in 1425, is the oldest university in Belgium. The University of Leuven has an active program of clinical research on primary immunodeficiencies. The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation. The BBSRC is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience, and funds the Babraham Institute.

Churchill is a modern and forwardlooking constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Churchill College is known for its focus on science and technology and its welcoming approach to diversity.

If you would like to support further research into the immune system and public engagement, please make a donation by transferring to IBAN number GB08LOYD30915603323705, BIC: LOYDGB21018 using reference “Battle Robots“ in the description.

Follow Maya as she learns all about vaccines the most marvellous medicines. Maya learns how the immune system works, and how vaccines help the immune system to be strong.

Whether it is the immune system or a running race, the lesson is clear - practise makes perfect!