Around 200 girls and boys attended Prof. Lachmann’s KinderUni lecture:

The children waited a long time to be able to enter the largest lecture hall of the MHH again. After a two-year break due to Corona, the time had finally come on 8 November 2022: around 200 inquisitive girls and boys aged eight to twelve came to the university to experience the lecture by RESIST Prof. Lachmann on the topic of “Medicine of tomorrow: How can phagocytes from the laboratory heal us?

The lung expert is researching how to help young people whose immune systems are weakened to better defend themselves against bacteria and viruses. To do this, he has studied the “good” cells of the body’s immune defence system, the phagocytes, in more detail and discovered a way to multiply them in the laboratory. In this way, he and his team want to help patients whose immune system is not able to fight off bacteria and viruses well.
What these phagocytes are and how they can be obtained and multiplied, the children learned first-hand during his lecture. To this end, Prof. Lachmann first explained to the children with hands-on experiments how we breathe in not only oxygen but also viruses and bacteria through the air. The children were given balloons that they had to inflate to see how much air they breathe in with one breath. “You breathe 30 times a minute, 40 bathtubs of air a day,” added Prof. Lachmann, causing the children to marvel.

In healthy people, their own immune defence works: the phagocytes recognise bacteria and viruses that are inhaled with the air and enter the lungs, they eat them up – “like Pacman, you know him, don’t you?” asked the 42-year-old researcher. The children answer in the affirmative. But what if children don’t have these “good” cells in their blood, or too few of them? With a live transmission, Prof. Lachmann took the children virtually to a colleague in the laboratory. There was a cosy warm incubator where the phagocytes grow. “Later, the cells are shock-frozen,” she explained, “at minus 80 degrees. That’s even colder than the North Pole.”

The young students still had a lot of questions, which they asked their professor at the end of the lecture. “Is there a training for the phagocytes?” one boy wanted to know. There really is. Lachmann and his team give the useful cells food that makes them even fitter. Do phagocytes like viruses better than bacteria? “No, the other way round,” he answered. And can we strengthen the phagocytes ourselves, a girl asked. “Yes, if we eat a lot of fruit and drink OJ,” Lachmann explained.
Bettina Dunker

The lecture can be viewed online via the following link: www.kinderuni-hannover.de. Further lecture dates are also listed there.

The photo shows Prof. Lachmann. He shows children how much air they breathe in with one breath.

More information on Prof. Lachmann’s RESIST project