The Immune System – Pioneers

The Immune System – Pioneers.

Paul Ehrlich

I happened upon the Nobel Prize page for early Immune system pioneers… Yay for early immune system pioneers! The page features Ilya Mechnikov and his experiments of sticking thorns into larvae and Paul Ehrlich’s research surrounding his “side-chain theory” which was to become the beginning of our understandings of antibodies. I am most intrigued by Ehrlich’s statement that “as a condition of life, organisms should not be reactive against their own tissues.” (Found at Ian R. Mackay, “Autoimmunity,” in AccessScience, 2008,

These early discoveries of protecting against disease because of internal bodily regulation and memory prompted our contemporary understandings of how our bodies, through the immune system, prevent disease and infection. These mechanisms, however, are also the underlying mechanisms of autoimmune diseases – where the body is indeed reactive against its own tissues. Responding to Ehrlich, can the autoimmune be considered a condition of life?

Circulating autoantibodies is normal for healthy individuals. Most people have them, but they don’t become “activated” against the body’s self-material. These conditions of autoimmunity may help to prevent other infectious diseases, like tuberculosis that I posted about previously. However, once triggered, these autoantibodies become “hyperactive” and “out-of-control.” This is still life, however, and many live with this sort of immune system. We may even be evolving towards it.

how to: swallow pills!

found this helpful little how-to in this weekend’s Chicago Tribune.

My favorite tip, #1 on the list, is “practice with candy!”  It makes taking pills sound just a little bit more fun… a little more sweet.  Maybe I am just being cynical about all the meds I pop everyday.  Maybe I was just a little surprised about seeing a hand holding pills like mine does and with the title being about swallowing “your medication without problems.”  But, I guess, this guide can be helpful to those who just can’t get the thing down their throat.  (Click here for a link to the article online.) However, it doesn’t address the psychological issue of having to take daily prescriptions.  I wonder what that how-to would look like.  Maybe something like:

1.  Just forget why you’re taking these and what they are.  Just swallow without thinking.

2. Address the prescriptions.  Ask them:  what are you doing for me? are you necessary? can you tell me again what the doctor said about you?

3. Remind yourself:  these are important.  i need these to get through the day.

4.  Really, it’s ok to be giving money to the pharmaceutical industry…

Something like that.