17 July 2009
Our immune system is one of nature's most magnificent and yet complex inventions. It is constantly on alert, utilising an intricate network of organs, cells and proteins to protect us from the billions of bacteria and viruses that we are exposed to every day.
The true power of our immune system comes from the fact that it has the ability to"remember" invading germs that it has fought in the past and is able to strike more quickly if they attack again. When this happens we say that the body has immunity.
Not surprisingly, the consequences of a poorly operating immune system can be severe. Individuals with immune systems that are less active than normal are highly susceptible to diseases such as cancer, while those with an overactive immune system are at risk of developing autoimmune diseases such as arthritisor multiple sclerosis.
By unlocking the secrets to controlling immune responses, scientists at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research hope to develop more effective and natural therapies for treating disease.