How did people(possibly scientists or doctors) discover how our immune system worked? Eg how they sent wbc to fight.

371 views
0

How did people(possibly scientists or doctors) discover how our immune system worked? Eg how they sent wbc to fight.

In: Biology

It’s a bit of a broad question. I’d have to dig into history to find the fathers of immunology. For example Metchnikoff first observed that there are cells (phagocytes) that surround, engulf and digest foreign material in starfish larvae and proposed it’s the first line of defence. But there are so many types of immune cells with different functions that were discovered over the years. But it’s like any other scientific concept, it’s discovered gradually over decades. First scientists observe under a microscope that some cells surround a pathogen or foreign object and destroy it, then as technology advances, other methods help them understand how and which cells exactly. Besides basic microscopy, genetic manipulation techniques have been invaluable. I mean first it took us a while to discover that pathogens exist and that there are actual tiny microorganisms that can infect us, bacteria then viruses and so on. Then some thought it’s all humoral, that some proteins (antibodies) in the blood attack foreign objects and cause their death. Then we finally acknowledged cellular immunity and then adaptive immunity with somatic hypermutation and polyclonal expansion. It’s a very giant topic you’re asking about here. It would be easier if you asked about a particular concept in immunology. Perhaps you should take a look at some brief overview of the time line of immunology discoveries. Here is a good source:

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/medical/pathophys/immunology/readings/ConciseHistoryImmunology.pdf

Just to add, I work in an immunology lab, and while we are of course doing modern things, I think it might still be helpful to your question. We start by drawing blood samples from either mice or human volunteers, depending on the experiment. We use lab techniques to isolate different cells in different layers. Once we get the type of white blood cell that we want, we can grow those cells in a dish and experiment with different conditions. We can throw a bunch of different molecules at them that would found in the normal body environment and see how they react. Some molecules activate them and get them ramped up, while other molecules don’t really cause much of a response. Our main focus is cancer immunotherapy (basically getting a cancer patient’s immune system to clear out the cancer), so we also like to test out the ability of the cells we have isolated to attack cancer cells. We also have techniques to isolate and analyze individual proteins in the immune system. But that’s where things get very complicated very fast.