BIOL 2011L Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Transplant Rejection, Immunodeficiency, Organ Transplantation

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26 Nov 2017
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IMMUNOLOGY
Immunology is a branch of biology that covers the study of immune systems in all
organisms. The Russian biologist Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov advanced studies on immunology and
received the Nobel Prize for his work in 1908. He pinned small thorns into starfish larvae and
noticed unusual cells surrounding the thorns. This was the active response of the body
trying to maintain its integrity. It was Mechnikov who first observed the phenomenon of
phagocytosis, in which the body defends itself against a foreign body, and coined the term.
Immunology charts, measures, and contextualizes the: physiological functioning of the
immune system in states of both health and diseases; malfunctions of the immune system in
immunological disorders (such as autoimmune diseases, hypersensitivities, immune
deficiency, and transplant rejection); the physical, chemical and physiological
characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ, and in vivo.
Immunology has applications in numerous disciplines of medicine, particularly in the fields of
organ transplantation, oncology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology, psychiatry, and
dermatology.
Prior to the designation of immunity from the etymological root immunis, which is Latin for
"exempt"; early physicians characterized organs that would later be proven as essential
components of the immune system. The important lymphoid organs of the immune system
are the thymus and bone marrow, and chief lymphatic tissues such as spleen, tonsils, lymph
vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, and liver. When health conditions worsen to emergency
status, portions of immune system organs including the thymus, spleen, bone marrow, lymph
nodes and other lymphatic tissues can be surgically excised for examination while patients
are still alive.
Many components of the immune system are typically cellular in nature and not associated
with any specific organ; but rather are embedded or circulating in various tissues located
throughout the body.
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