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Immunology Notes

Immunology Notes is a fascinating introduction to immunology suitable for the sophisticated general reader, students and physicians who want a refresher course in the practical application of immunological concepts. The book is available as a PDF file for download.

In his Preface, Dr. Gislason states:

This is my notebook that contains an outline of a subject that grows in complexity everyday. Immunology in the broadest sense is the study of immune defenses in all animals that provides insights into the evolution of defense procedures, signaling and memory systems. There is a theoretic immunology that recognizes the complexity of immune networks that tend to create order out of chaos. I use the concept of networks to replace the misleading description “immune system”.

I emphasize a dynamic model of immune networks with mobile cell populations and evanescent events that are continuously evolving. Immune cell populations move through boundaries that open and close. As immune networks become more active, the migrations become more hectic and the boundaries become less secure; events tend become turbulent or chaotic. Patients report the events that occur and can tell physicians about progression of immune mediated diseases over time.

I learned some immunology and developed a basic understanding of allergy when I was a medical student. I learned more about the practical aspects of clinical allergy practice – skin tests and allergy shots-- when I joined my first medical practice that included many allergy patients. Years later, I continued to practice skin-test allergy in my own practice. My interests, views and knowledge changed in 1981 when I became ill and discovered delayed patterns of food allergy. Since then I have studied immunology closely and continue to have a special interest in Food Allergy. I have written a separate book that deal with this subject in more detail but retain an outline of the concepts and concerns in this book.

The applications of immunological knowledge in treating disease have proliferated in the past decade and promise to be an increasingly important part of future medicine. Antibodies that block cytokines, for example, are now big business that offers benefits at a high price. While the applications emerge from solid science and ingenious production techniques, meddling with human immune networks is a hazardous pastime.

One of the most dramatic demonstrations of the dangers involved in immune tinkering occurred in six healthy volunteers. They were given an antibody that targeted CD28 receptors on lymphocytes. They all promptly developed severe immune-mediated disease with multiple organ failure. The anti-CD28 antibody was developed as an activating signal… an immune system booster.

In the popular imagination, boosting your immune system is a good idea. Consumers buy products, exercises, and strange devices hoping to fulfill that promise. It is fortunate the commonly advertised immune boosting strategies do not work.


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