Understanding Immunology

3 mins read

Immunology is a branch of biology dedicated to the study of the immune system, but also part of medicine that deals with diseases of the immune system. Therefore, an immunologist is a scientist who does research in immunology, but it also refers to a doctor who treats immunological disorders. Immunologists are therefore formed by two distinct but closely related pathways.

It must be emphasized that the immune system is very sophisticated. It is the pillar of our health. The immune system is composed of several elements of recognition and defense very coordinated. To summarize, the immune system prevents the entry of an intruder into our body and if it does not work, immediately detects its presence to destroy it. This process takes place thanks to the immunological mechanisms of defense.

Immunological mechanisms

There are two major types of mechanisms of the immunological system:

  • non-specific or innate or natural mechanisms, such as protection of the skin and mucous membranes, gastric acidity, phagocytic cells or tears;
  • Specific mechanisms such as the directed action of lymphocytes and the production of specific antibodies.
  • The dysfunction of the immune system can cause several types of diseases: immunodeficiencies, auto-inflammatory diseases (such as pharyngitis, Crohn’s disease, Bechet’s disease), autoimmune diseases (lupus, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis). Rheumatoid, multiple sclerosis …), allergies … or cancer whose main problem is precisely the lack of effectiveness of the immune system to fight the tumor cells.

The knowledge of immunological mechanisms has allowed and continues to contribute to the development of many treatments against these diseases as well as many analytical techniques.

Treatments against diseases or their prevention

The use of vaccines worldwide (WHO) has overcome many infectious diseases (eg, smallpox).

Other diseases have become less common with vaccination (e.g., measles, hepatitis B).

Knowledge of immunological mechanisms is the basis of treatments in the medical field such as transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases (eg, type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis). In parallel, tumor immunology studies how the immune system interacts with tumor cells, in order to medically influence the potential potency of an immune response against a tumor.

On the therapeutic side, modified antibodies are used to target cancer cells to destroy tumors or to activate the killer cells (in the context of immunotherapy).

Also in cancer, the search for frequent markers called tumor markers makes it possible to orient the treatments according to the genetic profile of the patients.

In addition to these pointed applications, let us simply recall the importance of immunological techniques for medical, serological or infectious diagnosis. In Saudi Arabia, the field is rapidly progressing. Dr. Bandar Suliman is an assistant professor at Taibah University who specializes in molecular immunology and medicine and is the inventor of the two-dimensional digital scanner. He is a prominent medical scientist who developed a workflow system that serves more than 68k students.