America’s biopharmaceutical companies are working to harness the power of the body’s own immune system to fight not only infectious diseases, but cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. And maybe one day, fight devastating autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
Here’s how our amazing bodies work:
White cells are an important part of our immune system. These blood cells rush to the body’s defense when infectious disease or other foreign pathogens attack our bodies to prevent illness.
Macrophages are one form of white blood cell, which provide the first line of defense against many pathogens.
Macrophages engulf and directly destroy invading viruses, bacteria and cell debris through a process called phagocytosis. Once the macrophage has digested the unwanted material, it discards the waste.
Macrophages also play an essential role in activating our immune response to a microbial invasion. Once a macrophage ingests a pathogen, the cell surface presents a protein called an antigen, which then alerts other types of white blood cells – T cells and B cells – to attack the invading microbes. T cells and B cells “recognize” invading microbes and act to intercept and wipe them out.
Welcome to the new era of medicine.
For all of us.