In 10 seconds? If you spent time trying to understand the mechanics of COVID-19 during the pandemic you must have come across Interleukin-2, or IL-2, touted as a weapon against infection. This special protein is produced by our immune system that can help activate immune cells. Scientists are now exploring different ways that IL-2 can be used to help treat cancer.

So, what’s an interleukin? Good question! Our cells use many strategies to work together effectively. One important way cells communicate with each other is by sending out protein messengers, or cytokines, which land on receptors embedded on nearby cells. This sets off a cascade of biological reactions inside the receiving cells, which influences their behavior (for example,  change their metabolism, grow, etc).  Interleukins are a class of cytokines that were first discovered to be sent between immune cells  (inter=between; leukocyte=white blood cell). Nowadays, however, we know that interleukins can also be produced by other cells other than immune cells.

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