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Biology Filled Anime 'Cells At Work!' Gets Praise From Cancer Researcher

Jan 18, 2019 11:42 AM EST
"Cells At Work!"
With accurate animation of mechanisms and appealing characters, this anime show gets praise from a cancer researcher for an episode that shows how the immune system destroys cancer cells.
(Photo : Hataraku Saibou)

Biology-themed anime Hataraku Saibou, also known as Cells at Work!, received praise from a Japanese cancer researcher based in Atlanta, as he commented on the accuracy of its seventh episode featuring cancer cells.

Sad Story Of Cancer Cells

The world of Hataraku Saibou takes place inside the human body, where cells are depicted as human characters to illustrate their function.

A red blood cell takes the lead character as a rookie red-haired girl carrying boxes of oxygen to different locations. Similarly, actual red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to different parts of the body.

Its seventh episode highlights the presence of cancer cells in the body and how the immune system is fighting to keep them at bay.

Cancer cells are cells that grow and divide uncontrollably and possibly cause tumor to form. Meanwhile, the immune system is a network of different cells working as the body's defense against invasion and harm.

Researcher Praises Accurate Depiction

"This talk was about how immune cells were preventing the initial outbreak of cancer. Even in the eyes of cancer researchers, I think it was a very accurate content," Dr. Satoru Osuka tweeted. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

In his blog, Dr. Osuka also explained the science of eliminating cancer cells. While the anime only featured the work of the immune system, he mentions other ways of getting rid of cancer cells.

"Actually, there are many other elimination mechanisms. The most important of them is the self-destruct system integrated into the cell," he wrote in Japanese.

He refers to the TP53 gene that has the blueprint for making a tumor suppressor protein. The protein prevents cells from growing too fast and multiplying uncontrollably. It signals a damaged cell to undergo self-destruction called apoptosis to avoid further damage.

Accurate Science Outside Books And Classrooms

In previous episodes, the anime featured how cells work in cases such as a scrape wound on episode 2, food poisoning on episode 4, and pollen allergy on episode 5.

However, the show is not free of minor inconsistencies. In the anime show, red blood cell girl called other immune cells to the location of cancer cells. However, red blood cells do not have such function.

Despite minor corrections, Dr. Osuka recommended the anime as a good opportunity to get more knowledge.

"I really appreciate this anime. It's a good chance to learn more about cancer," he continued in another tweet.

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