The Benefits, Or Otherwise, Of The Immune Response. Speaks Also Of Aids And Cancer

1422 words - 6 pages

The immune system functions beneficially to recognise and remove foreign agents and abnormal or worn out cells. The processes by which these ends are achieved are extremely potent and whenever there is an immune reaction against a foreign body regardless of whether it is removed, there is always some damage to the surrounding tissue cells in the process, making them innocent victims of war! The diseases that sometimes result from such damage are the basis for a collection of disorders known as immunopathology.The control processes of the immune system are extremely complex and may fail resulting in either:* an excessive but basically normal reaction - HYPERSENSITIVITY* and abnormal reaction against self - AUTOIMMUNITY* a failure to respond to an antigenic challenge - IMMUNODEFICIENCYThis latter type of disease may not always be due to a failure of the immune control processes but might be the result of genetic abnormalities or external factors.Whilst the immune systems benefits by far outweigh it's shortcomings, it should still be noted that the potential for serious damage to occur is great. All immune effector mechanisms while having major beneficial effects in protection, always cause some damage to innocent cells of the tissues in which the reaction occurs. Normally the body is capable of coping with this damage and repairing it, however, on occasions the damage is excessive and it described as a hypersensitive reaction.Of course, the immune system is a very powerful front-line defence against infection. It provides a high level of specificity to any particular type of infection yet is also diverse enough to allow most types of infection to be detected and dealt with suitably. It's ability to learn is unrivalled in the human body, and for this reason, it is able to deal with virtually anything it comes into contact with. That said though, there are ways that an invading organism can get by the immune response without much difficulty. Some micro-organisms express molecules on their cell surface that inhibit complement activation and some resist opsonization by having specific coatings on their surfaceTransplantationProbably the best example of where the immune response is not advantageous is in cases where an organ transplant or a blood transfusion needs to take place. Obviously, due to the nature of the immune system, anything considered foreign in the body would be attacked, but in this situation it is most important to stop or greatly reduce thus reaction. The standard method of preventing a response is immunosuppression and is carried out using a variety of methods, with radiation or drugs being the most popular. Immunosuppression can be carried out in such a way that it either totally destroys the activity of the immune system, or so that it is more specific. Obviously the later is favourable, as in a totally immunosuppressed state, the patient is highly susceptible to infection and the attack of opportunistic organisms. The chance of a...

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