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Introducing Exacting Information in an Easy-to-Learn Format

Did you know...

  • researchers now believe autoimmune disorders result from a tolerance failure of the immune system?
  • antibodies function as both detectors and regulators within the immune system?
  • the immune system, in some cases, has a “memory”?

Participants learned these tidbits of information and engaged in some “hands-on” learning at the chapter’s Spring workshop, “Conversational Immunology,” on April 17, 2004. Alexander D. Politis, PhD, Scientific Review Administrator at the National Institutes of Health, presented concepts of immunology including the basic components of the immune system (B- and T-lymphocytes, eosinophils), the role of antibodies in immune response (promoting phagocytosis, cytotoxicity) and the process of antigen recognition. One of the most important concepts of immunology for a writer to learn, according to Dr. Politis, is clonal selection.

In clonal selection, T- and B-cells present within the human body exist undifferentiated, or with the capability to carry different “specificities.” These cells appear in this pattern prior to any exposure to a virus or disease. When the body is exposed, the white blood cells, or lymphocytes, of the immune system kick in. B- and T-cell lymphocytes have only a single designation. The kicker of clonal selection: only those lymphocytes with the appropriate designation can respond.

Participants at the workshop also benefited from a hands-on demonstration of how the immune system responds to foreign antigens.