L'Assedio Bianco
L’Assedio Bianco

The superheroes
who defend us

How does the immune system, which protects our body against its "enemies" day and night, work? It is a powerful and complex apparatus, which sometimes gets out of control. Let's tell its story, and immerse ourselves in this world full of surprises...

The project | The episodes | Backstage | The staff

The project

Illustrated stories
from a strange “nation

Imagine our body as if it were a nation, full of billions and billions of citizens (cells, in fact), with very long borders that fierce enemy patrols are constantly trying to cross, and possible internal revolts by groups that no longer want to follow the rules (tumours). A nation that is not a democracy, but not a dictatorship either: simply, a place where the rules were set down thousands of years ago, and everyone has to respect them, no questions allowed. A nation in which citizens have to show their ID to the police and soldiers, who are everywhere, with their barracks and thousands of checkpoints. If the agents think something is out of order, there are no investigations or trials: the offender, or alleged offender, is killed instantly right in front of the other citizens. Welcome to our nation-body. It is a land crisscrossed by a massive number of rivers and canals (blood and lymph vessels): a place with state-of-the-art technology, where many things happen in the water.

Through our illustrated stories we will show you how the good guys of the defensive apparatus (the immune system) and its different, fierce departments, carry out operations that are almost always deadly for enemies and rebels (but mistakes are made sometimes...). Come with us, and we will tell you how the people live in this strange, cruel and almost perfect country.

The episodes

Elite and front line,
here are our heroes


There are many key characters in the body's defence system: some are in the front line and must go into action immediately, without even wondering who the enemies are exactly. The others are elite troops, sophisticated and decisive, but slower...

Lungo il fiume, in missione parte la caccia ai nemici invisibili

Episode 01 | Macrophages

They’re down by the river, on a mission: the hunt for invisible enemies begins

They are quick and fearsome. These Enemy-Eating agents follow rules that might look cruel…

Perlustrazioni a tappeto per distruggere le cellule tumorali

Episode 02 | NK Lymphocytes

Patrolling constantly, to destroy cancer cells

Cancer is constantly trying to trick controls, but Natural Killer lymphocytes almost always detect it

Le cellule infettate lanciano l’allarme e si fanno uccidere

Episode 03 | Virus 1

The infected cells sound the alarm and get themselves killed

It's not easy to block viruses. Here again, NK lymphocytes, together with B and T lymphocytes, are critical agents

Arrivano gli anticorpi, e poi gli agenti speciali, e ancora rinforzi

Episode 04 | Virus 2

Antibodies arrive, then special agents, then backup

These are the antibodies, a cross between arrows, flags and handcuffs: they are deadly "bullets" against viruses and bacteria

Backstage

The scientific
reality


At the end of each episode we present the "Backstage": a brief scientific description of what we narrate from the very beginning of the story, where we imagined our body as a great nation. Here are all the heroes of the immune system, one after the other

Monociti e Macrofagi

Episode 01

Monocytes and Macrophages

Critical cells in the body’s first line of defence: they recognize the enemies immediately and eat them, literally

Linfociti NK e tumori

Episode 02

NK lymphocytes and tumours

They have a name that says it all: Natural Killer, they can recognize cancer cells and destroy them

Linfociti NK contro i virus

Episode 03

NK lymphocytes against viruses

NK lymphocytes also play a key role in searching for virus-infected cells and annihilating them

Anticorpi contro i virus

Episode 04

Antibodies against viruses

Viral infections are also slowed down by B lymphocytes, which turn into plasma cells and produce antibodies

The staff

Seeking
a new language

The immune system is the most indecipherable and complex world of our organism, along with the nervous system. But the scientific texts that try to describe it are almost always equally obscure... We have tried to use a different way to explain it, while maintaining a solid scientific basis...

Paolo Rossi Castelli

Creation and texts

Paolo Rossi Castelli

A scientific journalist with a focus on the world of medicine, he has worked for Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera and Mediaset. He founded PRC-Comunicare la Scienza, an agency specialized in scientific communication and based in Lugano

Marino Neri

Illustrations

Marino Neri

Illustrator and drawing teacher, he has published four graphic novels and exhibited his work in several European galleries. In 2012, he won the Nuove Strade award from Naples Comicon and Centro Fumetto Andrea Pazienza as best emerging talent

Annamaria Castellazzi

Scientific Consulting

Annamaria Castellazzi

She worked as an associate professor of clinical pathology and immunology at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pavia until 2018. She also directed the Inter-University Center for Immunity and Nutrition (University of Pavia and Bologna)

MaskeDesign

Web development

MaskeDesign

MaskeDesign is a web workshop, a creative laboratory, based in Milan, but with an international outlook. Starting from a solid traditional experience, it explores new expressive means and new languages of digital communication