We live in a sea of seething microbial predators, an infinity of invisible and invasive microorganisms capable of setting up shop inside us and sending us to an early grave. The only thing keeping them out? The immune system.
William Clark's In Defense of Self offers a refreshingly accessible tour of the immune system, putting in layman's terms essential information that has been for too long the exclusive province of trained specialists. Clark explains how the immune system works by using powerful genetic, chemical, and cellular weapons to protect us from the vast majority of disease-causing microbes-bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites. Only those microbes our bodies need to help us digest food and process vitamins are admitted. But this same system can endanger us by rejecting potentially life-saving organ transplants, or by overreacting and turning too much force against foreign invaders, causing serious--occasionally lethal--collateral damage to our tissues and resulting in autoimmune disease. In Defense of Self covers everything from how antibodies work and the strategies the body uses to distinguish self from not self to the nature of immunological memory, the latest approaches to vaccination, and how the immune system will react should we ever be subjected to a bioterrorist attack. Clark also offers important insights on the vital role that the immune system plays in cancer, AIDS, autoimmunity, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and asthma, and other diseases.
Of special interest to all those suffering from diseases related to the immune system, as well as their families, In Defense of Self lucidly explains a system none of us could live without.
Part I: How The Immune System Works
Chapter 1: What Is An Immune System?
Chapter 2: Antibodies
Chapter 3: How Do Antibodies Work?
Chapter 4: T Cells: The Second Arm of Adaptive Immunity
Part II: The Immune System in Health and Disease
Chapter 5: The Immune Response to Infectious Disease: All Out War!
Chapter 6: When the Immune System is the Problem, and Not the Solution
Chapter 7: Vaccines: How They Work, Why Sometimes They Don't, And What We Can Do About It
Chapter 8: When the Walls Come Tumbling Down: AIDS
Chapter 9: When the Walls Come Tumbling Down: Primary Immune Deficiencies
Chapter10: When the Immune System is the Problem, and Not the Solution
Section II: Hypersensitivity and Allergy
Chapter 11: The Immune System and Cancer
Chapter 12: Autoimmunity
Chapter 13: Organ Transplantation
Chapter 14: First Defense: The Immune System and Bioterrorism