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23

The flu virus changes rapidly so that the current vaccine doesn't work against the new strains. The way vaccines work is that they teach our immune system what to look out for. The vaccine contains bits of the virus but in a form that can't cause a proper infection, the body learns what to look for and next time before the virus can really get going the ...


22

It is possible for viruses to live in mutualistic relationships with their hosts, these associations are often overlooked due to the devastating effect that many viruses can have. To give an example in humans, when HIV-1-infected patients are also infected with hepatitis G virus, progression to AIDS is slowed significantly (Heringlake et al., 1998; Tillmann ...


19

Unlike erythrocytes that have a very rigid shape and almost cannot change their size (hence the size distribution is indicative and can be used for diagnostic purposes in medicine), lymphocytes can change their size in a wider range, this is why you see the numbers 6-9 and 10-15 μm. And they indeed cluster into several different groups: so-called "large ...


13

Vaccines work by introducing an attenuated strain of the pathogen (or alternatively the antigens that are normally present on the pathogens surface) into the body, whereupon the body mounts an immune response. As this will (hopefully) be the first time that the body has encountered the antigens on the pseudo-pathogen's surface, the response is called the ...


13

According to the Wikipedia entry for the ABO blood group system: Anti-A antibodies are hypothesized to originate from immune response towards influenza virus, whose epitopes are similar enough to the α-D-N-galactosamine on the A glycoprotein to be able to elicit a cross-reaction. Anti-B antibodies are hypothesized to originate from antibodies produced ...


12

It is not only the immune system that prevents us from getting ill. Worrying much in my opinion won't make you catch a cold; rather, you can get problems with your cardiovascular system (arrhythmias, hypertension, angina pectoris) or limbic system (panic attacks, sweating attacks etc.). The connections are many; here are some possible ones: There are many ...


11

MBQ and Rory M have already given decent answers on the "hows" of how the vaccine memory is formed. Now, for some twists: There are three (general) types of vaccine, all of which are meant to make your body "think" its being infected and provoke an immune response, while at the same time not causing active infection. They are: Live attenuated. These ...


11

Duration of efficacy is typically determined by tracking the antibody titers of a cohort of subjects who have gotten the vaccine, and estimating based on the trajectory of those titers where they will eventually cross the threshold to the point where the vaccine no longer confers immune resistance. These estimates do get revised and estimated as time goes ...


11

I think the current answer to this for bacterial infections is quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is a signalling pathway in bacteria which senses a molecule that the bacteria themselves secrete. When the concentration of the quorum signal reaches a certain level, the bacteria interpret this as their population density reaching some threshhold. Bacteria are ...


11

Personal comfort is the primary answer. Quite a bit of research has gone into fevers, and the current consensus is that Fevers less than 105F (40.5C) shouldn't necessarily be treated. The primary reason the body raises its temperature (via the Hypothalamus in this case) is that bacteria and viruses tend to optimally thrive at 98.6F, which is also your ...


11

I think no one can really deny the existence of HIV or AIDS, just a search on google scholar will show >1,500,000 hits for each of those terms, and ask (hopefully any) doctor and they will say it does, though AIDS denialists do debate whether HIV causes AIDS. This paper explains the process of HIV causing AIDS. Further, AIDS denialists have not offered up ...


9

Alright, having read the citation linked, and doing a little poking of my own, here's my approach at an answer: Some human herpes virus infections may compete with HIV infection. Essentially, some strains (not the ones you normally think of) infect CD4 cells - the same cells targeted by HIV. These strains down regulate transcription in CD4 cells, which in ...


9

Infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc., don't know when to "attack" or produce pathogenic substances, they just do it under their preferred conditions, and your body's immune system either succeeds in fighting them off immediately, or it doesn't and you get sick. Your body is constantly confronting and clearing potentially dangerous ...


8

As I'm lucky enough to have access to that article, I'm going to extract whatever I can find to answer your question. To begin with, innate immunity must have evolved first - we can see it at almost all stages of evolution. According to Cooper & Herrin, ever since aerobic respiration gave rise to multicellular organisms which in turn needed protection ...


8

They appear sick because they are sick, but with other, opportunistic infections. The "immune deficiency" part of AIDS means that the immune system is not functioning normally and, thus, is unable to protect them. Typical illnesses that are more found more frequently in AIDS patients are pneumocystis pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma.


8

The combination of these two reports from the CDC give information about the comparative prevalence of flu infection in the winter (September '12- May '13) and summer (May '13 - September '13). I'm going to assume that 2012-2013 was a fairly representative year as far as the level of detail of "do we get sick more in the winter" goes. Particularly striking ...


7

The delay in immune attack is common for many viral infectious deceases where auto-immune response plays substantial to significant role in pathogenesis of the decease. The classical example here are the viral hepatitis B, C and D where it is auto-immune attack that causes the massive death of liver cells (hepatocytes). The delay in immune attack is ...


7

First of all we should distinguish between the physiological clotting factors that are parts of the normal clotting pathways, and those that might affect clotting pathways but are not observed under healthy conditions. TPA (tissue plasminogen activation), PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor) and prothrombin are normal clotting factors that are essential ...


7

The answer is sort of hidden behind the very first paragraph of your linked question: Vaccines work by introducing an attenuated strain of the pathogen (or alternatively the antigens that are normally present on the pathogens surface) into the body, whereupon the body mounts an immune response. The body mounts an immune response based upon a particular ...


7

Small molecules do not have antigenic properties but they can elicit immune response by binding to a "carrier" protein. The small molecule is called a Hapten. An epitope forms at the protein-hapten binding interface. Nickel acts like a hapten and elicits immune response by binding to proteins like transferrin, albumin etc. Other metals also cause ...


7

No, they are of course not there to cause allergies. It is thought (although not directly proven in human) that IgE is important to fight parasites and worms. They bind to antigens from the parasites, which leads to the secretion of histamines. This causes a local immune reaction (which also is a problem in allergies) which is helpful to fight the parasites. ...


7

These so called virgin B-cells (becase they never had contact with their antigen) which are present in your body only have random B-cell receptors (when secreted, these are the antibodies), mostly of a relatively low binding affinity. These B-cells undergo division, re-arrangement and somatic hypermutation of the B-cell receptor and clonal selection. Only ...


6

A quick search on ISI Web of Knowledge yielded this paper: R J North, P A Berche and M F Newborg (1981) Immunologic consequences of antibiotic-induced abridgement of bacterial infection: effect on generation and loss of protective T cells and level of immunologic memory. Journal of Immunology 127: 342-346 The authors investigated the effects of ...


6

We each inherit either A, B, AB or no antigens from our parents. The current thought is that when you're between 0-6 months old you are exposed to bacteria/viruses that contain very similar antigens (A or B). These antigens are similar enough to the A and B antigens found on red blood cells that any antibody created against these bacterial antigens would ...


6

In the above graph the darker blue line refers to the antibodies the baby receives from the mother in utero, as you mentioned in your question. As you can see, the red line indicates that babies begin to produce low levels of their own antibodies between 3 and 6 months before birth. However, these are IgM antibodies, immature 'rough draft' versions. ...


6

Western Blot tests on young children are practically useless, since they test for antibodies. The child will likely have antibodies passed down by the HIV+ mother, regardless of whether the child has HIV. The test will show the antibodies, which may be mistaken for an active immune response from the child. As such, there will be a high false-positive rate ...


6

I'm not sure if I should be posting this as an answer, but I think a very approachable and accurate account of the history of HIV can be found from Dinis de Sousa et al.. I agree with what has been posted above. On the theory that a picture is worth a thousands words, you might also introduce skeptics to the cryo-electron microscopy images of the virus ...


5

The goal of the vaccine is to provoke an immune answer, therefore some degree of inflammation is expected in order for the vaccine to work. Since you get the shot intramuscularily, intradermally or subcutaneously, it is local, and the inflammation does not spread. The reason why your whole arm seems to hurt (rather than the place where the vaccine was ...


5

I worked for a long time at a leading high-quality antibody company, so I'll try and share some of my experiences with you. The process of making a highly specific antibody (I'll focus on monoclonals) has three important parts - antigen design and immunization, cloning and subcloning, and screening/validation. Each part is crucial on its own, and the better ...


5

It is common knowledge that when you're cold you could get a cold. This may be a nice illustration why we need to be wary of “common knowledge”. What is the mechanism linking temperature and viral infection? This isn’t clear. There are a few proposed mechanisms but a likely explanation is: “there is no mechanism” – and the assumed correlation ...



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