The human immune system and new discoveries of scientists
Breakthrough in research on our jamming system
A new hypothesis by Harvard scientist Dr. Kagan challenges existing theories about how the immune system works. Until now, it was believed that the body’s fight against microorganisms consisted in the recognition by the immune system of specific proteins on the surface of microorganism cells, i.e. antigens. The scientist’s discovery assumes that the immune system does not recognize antigens on the surface of pathogen cells, but on the surface of the body’s own cells. When microbes attack the immune system, it will produce antibodies that recognize its own cells in which pathogens have settled. These antibodies then trigger a series of processes leading to the destruction of the infected cells. If this hypothesis is confirmed, it will mean a revolution in medicine. Until now, we treated the infection by destroying the pathogens, and now we can also direct this action to the cells that have been infected with them. This could lead to the development of new, more effective treatments for infectious diseases. The scientist’s research sheds new light on the human immune system.
Dr. Kagan presented an innovative theory about how the body fights infections. According to this hypothesis, immune cells respond to ‘mistakes’ that pathogens make, not to the pathogens themselves. Kagan is of the opinion that pathogens do not activate pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), but through pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). PAMPs are small molecules that are released by pathogens when they make a mistake, such as cell death. Examples of PAMPs are short strands of genetic material or degraded cell wall proteins. When PRRs recognize PAMPs, they trigger an immune response that leads to the destruction of the pathogen. Bacteria and viruses that are successful in escaping the immune system can only be identified and destroyed when another bacterium or virus is causing the bug. Then the immune system is triggered and starts working.
We now have amazing molecular insight into how these PAMP receptors recognize infectious agents. Most of them detect nucleic acids. There is no living organism that has its nucleic acids laid out on the surface like on a plate. Bacteria hide their DNA and RNA inside themselves. Viruses do the same and even our cells do the same. So it would be a bit weird if the infection sensors were detecting particles that would be hidden.
– said Kagan.
This hypothesis suggests that the immune system does not detect intact cell wall proteins. Instead, infection-fighting cells detect protein fragments that are only released when a bacterial or viral cell dies. For example, when 100 bacteria enter our body, 80 of them will infect cells. The remaining 20 will not survive and will decompose. Then the immune system will recognize and reveal their genetic material. Thanks to this, we are able to fight the infection. However, it happens that the pathogen is able to overtake the immune system and the disease develops.