Biology career research on immunology

Essay by sarah_t1987 February 2004

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Biology career research

I have chosen to write about an aspect of biology I am interested in, it is not necessarily what I wish to get into for my future career, but it is something I wish to consider. This aspect of biology I have chosen to write about, is immunology.

Firstly, why have I chosen immunology? What do a new generation vaccine against malaria, and an immunotherapy for cancer, have in common? Or trying to understand why transplanted organs are rejected, or suppressing diseases like multiple sclerosis or diabetes, or simply to discover the reasons why some of us suffer from asthma or food allergies? These are just some of the many applications of modern immunology. Immunology is the science of the immune system - the dynamic network of cells and molecules that has evolved to respond to invading microbes and thereby protect our bodies from the diseases they cause.

Immunology, which has its roots in the smallpox vaccination experiments by Jenner over 200 years ago, is now a sophisticated cellular and molecular discipline at the forefront of medical research. The aim of immunology is to understand how the immune system responds to dangerous microbes and how some have evolved means to escape immunity and cause disease. It is also the study of how the immune system can cause diseases of its own, and how it can be manipulated to fight autoimmunity, allergies and cancer.

Our first line of defence against foreign organisms is barrier tissues such as the skin that stop the entry of organism into our bodies. If, however, these barrier layers are penetrated, the body contains cells that respond rapidly to the presence of the invader. These cells include macrophages that engulf foreign organisms and kill them without the need for antibodies. Immediate challenge also comes...