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Re-Engineering the Immune System 175

Posted by kdawson
from the immunity-two-point-oh dept.
destinyland notes a microbiology professor describing "Immunity on Demand" (or "Immunity 2.0") and wonders whether we could genetically engineer all the antibodies we need. "...there's a good chance this system, or something like it, will actually be in place within decades. Caltech scientists have already engineered stem cells into B cells that produce HIV-fighting antibodies — and an NIH researcher engineered T cells that recognize tumors which has already had promising clinical trials again skin cancer. Our best hope may be to cut out the middleman. Rather than merely hoping that the vaccine will indirectly lead to the antibody an individual needs, imagine if we could genetically engineer these antibodies and make them available as needed?"
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Re-Engineering the Immune System

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  • That we can't actually see a majority of diseases under a microscope, only the antibodies our bodies produce to fight it off. Has that part been a myth or have we merely technologically advanced past that?

    I find it difficult for us to engineer an antibody to fight against something we haven't actually detected yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mortiss (812218)

      Well, we will still leave our immune system to handle the unknown. However the concept of either enabling a mass and cheap production of specific antibodies against viruses like HIV or transferring the antibody producing B cells into our bodies is certainly interesting. I was under the impression that his was not done earlier mainly due to the prohibitive costs of treating everyone this way. Given that there is still no effective vaccine this may actually become viable prevention or treatment option.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rei (128717)

        I've always wondered whether some day it might be possible to have an implant that wirelessly receives new data definitions of proteins expressed by various pathogens and have it express the protein in a way that will trigger an immune response. Hence, you can automatically update everybody's immunity. Sort of like a computer virus scanner. "Oh, H10N7 has mutated into a virulent form and is now killing people in Taipei? Everyone within a 300 mile radius of Taipei with an implant who doesn't have a count

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by xOneca (1271886)

          [...] to have an implant that wirelessly receives new data definitions of proteins expressed by various pathogens and have it express the protein in a way that will trigger an immune response. [...] Basically, an automatic flu shot every year, an automatic immunization against pandemics, an automatic immunization in case of biological attack, an automatic immunization against cancer-causing viruses, etc.

          Wait until someone enters through your backdoor and pushes your big red button of self-destruction.

        • by profplump (309017)

          I could go for the idea of on-site generation, and for now I'll let you gloss over how to make this device small or power it or provide supplies for it, but is this really something you're willing to leave open to wide-area wireless hacking? Wouldn't you rather have a device on your desk that can make injectable antibodies? Or at least limit the wireless to a very short range (say, less than 1 cm) so that hacking is limited to near-contact distances?

          • by Rei (128717)

            and for now I'll let you gloss over how to make this device small or power it or provide supplies for it

            There are a wide variety of ways to power implants, and depends on the power requirements. Everything from primary cells to electromagnetic induction to piezoelectricity to microbial fuel cells to direct glucose fuel cells to betavoltaics. I don't know enough about the process of the immune system "recognizing" a protein as a threat to say what supplies (if any) would be needed, whether the body itself

        • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@NETBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Wednesday February 10, 2010 @01:32AM (#31082330)

          I've always wondered whether some day it might be possible to have an implant that wirelessly receives new data definitions of proteins expressed by various pathogens and have it express the protein in a way that will trigger an immune response. Hence, you can automatically update everybody's immunity. Sort of like a computer virus scanner.

          Microsoft Vaccine 2000 is configuring your immune system. This may take a few minutes. If your body stops responding for a long time and there is no brain activity please die. Setup will continue after you are reborn.

        • by vegiVamp (518171)

          And if the battery runs out, you die of a stupid cold. Either that, or some idiot *coughmcafeecough* accidentally uploads an antibody definition that fights off red blood cells.

    • by eparker05 (1738842) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:48PM (#31077634)
      For most diseases the antibodies are easier to see because they are more widespread. It only takes a few virally infected cells to set off a massive immune response. The difficulty in engineering an antibody is the same difficulty as engineering any protein. Our knowledge of protein folding is still in it's infancy. So far, we have used evolutionary methods to find new antibodies. Perhaps someday we will be able to build them from the ground up, but not now.
    • We have much more powerful visualization means in science now, I recently watched a video of an HIV virus entering a cell.

      But also I wanted to point out that while this theoretical process being discussed may not be usable for new diseases, there are many disease-causing viruses/microbes that are already identified but still afflict human health.

      MRSA, HIV, HepatitisA/B/C, Herpes, Ghonnorhea, Chlamydia, most cancers... etc etc. So anyway, the value of the theoretical concept, if it were realized, is its abi

    • I assume you're thinking just of optical microscopes, where a standard one can see down to around 200nm. If you include electron microscopes, however, there are plenty that can see down to the size of individual atoms - so definitely enough resolution to see viruses. There are also a load more visualisation techniques around which can also give info on virus structures.
    • Re:I was under... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:33PM (#31078332)
      I'm a Biologist, and you're somewhat mistaken. Antibodies are so infinitesimally tiny that no light microscope can possibly see them, even compared to virii which are also fairly invisible under a microscope. Antibodies are easy to detect, however, because they have a constant region on their tail end, which we know how to identify. We have compounds that bind to that constant tail end and as a result tag the antibody and what it is binding to. It's like the antibody is a flag pole, and biologists can run a colorful flag up that pole when we want to see what piece of the ground the flag pole is attached to.

      Engineering antibodies is a simple matter, it's the basis of immunization/vaccination. Traditionally, we give chopped up bacteria and virii to a patient and their immune system detects those and creates more antibodies to put into the blood stream to stave off future infection. With this approach, instead we feed immune cells in a Petri dish an antigen, and they produce antibodies specific to that antigen. We can separate out these antibodies and purify them because they have that constant tail region that we can detect. We can then inject these into a person and these antibodies will cling to whatever thing they've been engineered to detect and attract the native immune system to it.

      We can also use genetic engineering tricks to produce en masse a single specific kind of antibody. The technology has been there for research labs for decades. Either method will work fairly similarly, but in my opinion the former seems "easier", because we let the cells sort out what specific antibody to make. If we genetically engineer immune cells, we have to know exactly what gene sequence will produce an antibody targetting exactly what we want targetted ... which is good if we know what the antibody gene sequence is already, but difficult to figure out on our own. Nature is much more efficient (and cost effective) at that kind of thing. Once we let nature figure out what's best, we can just figure out the gene sequence from there to mass produce the antibody.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > I'm a Biologist

        > virii

        So it's the biologists who are screwing up this beautiful language! The enemy is within the gates!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by StellarFury (1058280)

      Your impression was very, very wrong. Not only can we see most disease-causing agents with electron microscopes, we have X-ray and/or NMR crystal structures of a huge number of viruses - meaning we know, down to a "where each individual atom is" level of accuracy, what these things look like.

  • At least let's hope we won't all end up like that guy in TFA's illustration. Looks like he's missing something.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:41PM (#31077530) Homepage Journal
    Smarting up our immune system could turn to be a dumb idea, as a good part of us comes from virus [slashdot.org]
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:58PM (#31077766) Homepage Journal

      Actally having too strong an immune system IS bad; that's what arthritis is, your body's immune system attacking you. But having bioengineered antibodies would ge great.

      Too bad it will be "a few decades", I'll be dead by then.

      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:11PM (#31077952) Homepage Journal

        Actually there is a theory that a lot of the autoimmune dieses we get are and artifact of the Black Death.
        Those with a very strong immune system lived so now our immune systems maybe a little too good for our own good.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by the_humeister (922869)

          I don't buy it. Every population has some members with autoimmune diseases. But the Black death reached its peak in Europe.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke (6130)

            A lot of != all.

            Certainly it's hard to argue that the strongest selective pressure for Europeans hasn't been for resistance to the plague (and other communicable diseases).

        • by srothroc (733160)
          That's a neat idea; do you have links to sources?
          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Nope not at all. It was on a light fluffy tv science show. So take it with a grain of salt.
            It seems plausible but it would at best be a contributing factor.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          That makes no sense.
          The Immune system doesn't get 'stronger'. What there are is some people whose immune system effectively fought off this specific disease better then others. That in no way means it is better at fighting off other things.

        • And that theory, as far as I know, is complete and utter bullshit.

          My knowledge is, that autoimmune diseases always come up, when you combine something unnatural unhealthy, with something natural and normal.
          Like Cillit Bang with cat hair. Or denatured proteins (most milk products) with tree pollen.

          I know that a German doctor called Bruker had a huge amount of experience to such diseases, in the area of nutrition. With over 30,000 patients over the course of 30 years.
          Well, anyone can state that. So we did put

        • by LanMan04 (790429)

          Don't forget most people in the 1st world are essentially parasite-free. Our immune systems are tuned to fight parasites day and night. We don't have them anymore, so our mean-ass immune system looks for another target.

          There have been studies (google them) about deliberately infecting people with specific kinds of benign worms (tape? round? not sure) who then have their autoimmune symptoms (as well as severe allergies) just disappear.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by g00ey (1494205)
        I wouldn't agree to that. Autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and allergies is rather a sign that the immune system is "out of tune", not too strong. This means that the immune system is wasting its limited resources on the wrong thing.
      • by Raptoer (984438)

        Arthritis is a class of diseases, meaning chronic degenerative joint pain.

        There is osteoarthritis which is caused by wearing out the protective cartillage in your joints.
        Some arthritis is caused by auto-immune diseases, including psoriatic and rheumatoid.

        My mother has both psoriatic and rheumatiod and until recently had a lot of pain when moving. Some new steriods are allowing her to move pain free for the most part.

    • Actually, the very first job of immune cells is to recognize self. After they can recognize self, then they go on to attack non-self. If the immune system were to attack self, you get various autoimmune diseases ranging from diabetes to arthritis. So what I wonder about these, given that they grow in a lab and never recognize you, is whether they will tag our own cells?

  • by wrencherd (865833) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:43PM (#31077546)

    From TFA:

    "We are not sure when this will all happen, but there’s a good chance it will, and perhaps the only question is when."

    Hmmmmm . . .

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by osu-neko (2604)

      From TFA:

      "We are not sure when this will all happen, but there’s a good chance it will, and perhaps the only question is when."

      Hmmmmm . . .

      Very likely it'll be in a couple decades. I remember reading that back in the 80s.

      Oh, wait...

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:44PM (#31077564)

    Derya Unutmaz is an Associate Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at N.Y.U. School of Medicine. His current research is focused on understanding the function of human immune system.

    I can tell him right now what the function of the human immune system is: to keep us from getting sick.

    I'll take his grant money now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Incorrect:

      "to keep us from getting sick."

      Correct:
      "to keep us from getting a sickness, again."

      • For viral infections I've heard that too, but my understanding is that macrophages and other immune system cells will attack bacteria they haven't seen before. If you get a cut on your finger, you don't need to get septicemia once before your immune system starts fighting that bacteria. I also understand that the immune system helps to kill cells which are damaged, preventing you from getting cancer, and they do this from day one, without requiring you to recover from cancer.

        Anyway, I'd argue that "keep u

  • by assemblyronin (1719578) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:44PM (#31077568)

    FTA:

    All this is, of course, a delicate proposition. In some ways, an overactive immune system is as much of a risk as an underactive one: more than a million people worldwide a year die from collateral damage, like septic shock after bacterial infection, and inflammations that may ultimately induce chronic illness such as heart disease and perhaps even cancer.

    This is just one possible outcome to programming new antibodies. I'd also be concerned with how the treatments mitigate any risk to shutting down our own immune system.

    Hypothetical speculation: Say the treatment works well while you're taking regular doses of new Immunity 2.0 shots, but as soon as you can't afford to pay anymore, you're off the Immunity 2.0 shots. Well, it's been a while since your real immune system has had to work, so the next mutation of a virus comes along and 'oops'.

    Most questions to risk will probably be found in lab research and trials, but it's still something to think about.

    • Don't worry until you hear that Norton is moving into the health insurance business...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Patch86 (1465427)

      Move to a country with free healthcare?

      Seriously, paying for medicine is so 19th century.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        You need to come up with some better phrasing for that, you are suggesting that back in the 19th century, we had to pay for medicine, rather than having slaves like we do today.

        You should probably use 'universal health care' instead of 'free health care', and speak about not charging for it at the point of delivery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ultranova (717540)

      Well, it's been a while since your real immune system has had to work, so the next mutation of a virus comes along and 'oops'.

      Your real immune system is working all the time, fighting more simultaneous and endless wars than the United States. Leave a piece of meat on the table and take note how long it takes before all the bacteria, fungi and insects notice it's there. Now remember that you are made of meat.

      You only notice your immune system when something manages to get a foothold, but that doesn't mean t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mindfarms (1741686)
      That is a very valid point. The creation of Products that "require" continued use in the interest of (so called) continued good health is nothing new to the Pharmaceutical Industries. Read the fine print (really fine print) on the tiny hand-out included with most prescribed drugs and you will see what I mean. Most of them point out dangerous and undesirable results if you DISCONTINUE the medication. The Internet Marketing Industry grabbed that concept and introduced it as a New Concept... called Forced Con
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Just like how you need to keep paying for a polio shot every year.

      No, wait. Maybe the immune system doesn't work like you think it does?

    • by vegiVamp (518171)

      I suspect that, similar to how vaccination works, your own immune system will have picked up the trick and continue fighting on it's own. After all, there'll be a whole lot of dead enemies floating about to see how it's done.

  • by caladine (1290184) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:46PM (#31077600)

    whatcouldpossiblygowrong

    On a more serious note, this looks promising. I just hope we don't rush into this. The immune system runs a delicate balance, over response is nearly as dangerous as not enough. More research needed.

  • And then when a new disease comes along, our immune system is not properly trained, and we'll die.

    Remember that the native Americans dies from illnesses which were relatively harmless for the Europeans, because they just didn't have all those illnesses there.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:08PM (#31077910) Journal
      The immune system isn't some kind of muscle, it doesn't really have "strength" in some neatly scalar way(OK, if your T-cell count is completely in the tank, you'd have a case for saying that your immune system is "weak").

      You acquire immunity based on exposure to particular agents. If a new disease comes along, your immune system won't be properly trained no matter what you've been doing before. That is what makes it a "new" disease. Plus, the whole point of this approach would be that you could engineer antibodies on demand for the new disease, and take them before it kills you.

      The immune system will, given time, almost always come up with antibodies and mount a response; but some conditions will kill you good and hard before you have time to mount that response. This is why vaccines are useful(since they provoke the same or similar response; but are harmless, so your immune system isn't racing against the clock). If you could engineer the antibodies themselves, you could get even faster response, and have something that would work even once you are infected.

      It would, essentially, allow you to apply the technique that we currently use in Antivenom agents to diseases generally.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mariox19 (632969)

        I seem to remember reading something that contradicts what you're saying.

        As I recall, some scientists are wondering if vaccinating children against chickenpox is having an adverse affect on the adult population who have had chickenpox. Since kids aren't carrying the active virus, adults are exposed to it less. It seems like routine exposure may actually help keep our immune systems primed. The result is, since more immune systems are "out of practice," so to speak, more adults are contracting shingles. [webmd.com]

        Disc

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          You can definitely have "strength" with respect to a particular disease, or class of closely related diseases. That is pretty much how the immune response works. Grandparent seemed to be talking about the case of exposure to one disease, followed by exposure to something entirely different. The "practice" in the case of the first disease would indeed make you more resistant to future occurrences of that one; but wouldn't make a difference in terms of your response to something novel.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maxume (22995)

          This seems to be what you are talking about:

          http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/09/01/12896.aspx [news-medical.net]

      • by vlm (69642)

        The immune system will, given time, almost always come up with antibodies and mount a response; but some conditions will kill you good and hard before you have time to mount that response.

        Occasionally overreacts and kills you by fever, also occasionally gets the peculiar idea that wheat, soy, milk protein is an enemy invader and attacks your stomach wall, like my son (whom is perfectly healthy if he avoids those foods, projectile vomiting otherwise) Even worse is when it gets the idea your own innards are the enemy... I dated a girl in the very early 90s whos mother had Lupus and thats how she described Lupus, since theres some genetic component, they're probably both dead by now, don't kno

      • by Ihlosi (895663)

        Plus, the whole point of this approach would be that you could engineer antibodies on demand for the new disease, and take them before it kills you.

        That sounds like passive immunization to me. A really, really old concept.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_immunization [wikipedia.org]

        So how is this approach "new"?

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Remember that the native Americans dies from illnesses which were relatively harmless for the Europeans, because they just didn't have all those illnesses there.

      And European explorers, all descendants of survivors of the Black Death, died from tropical diseases at rates far higher than the locals, because they didn't have those diseases in Europe.

      Vaccines are all about "training" our immune system. But they only work against the disease the vaccine is designed for.

  • by wrencherd (865833)

    I have to ask, b/c I don't know, but could this lead to lazy-, or even more inept immune systems?

    • by Zerth (26112)

      It sounds plausible, if the introduction of the antibody doesn't inform the immune system how to reproduce it in the same fashion that introduction of inert viral proteins does.

      If so, it would only be effective until the antibodies degraded/were flushed out.

      It would still be useful for improving immune response to diseases that kill quickly or used as a prophylactic when you don't have time to wait after the inoculation before being exposed(e.g. emergency aid workers).

  • I for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by wintercolby (1117427)
    welcome our new zombie overlords [imdb.com].
  • I believe it should be "Re-Randomchanceing the immune system". Remember, something cannot be accidentally engineered. The summary writer is clearly in the pocket of Big I.D. /sarcasm
  • by bzdyelnik (1600135) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:49PM (#31077646)
    If the exogenous antibodies end up hitting the wrong cells in some people, there could be major problems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmunity [wikipedia.org] Although I would expect that there would be some sort of pre-compatibility test to avoid major complications - but you can't realistically pre-test every cell type via biopsy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by izomiac (815208)
      I agree. Autoimmunity seems like it'll kill this idea unless they take some pretty extreme measures to get around it. Each person is genetically different. There are a lot of potential antigens for an antibody to recognize. With our own immune system there are (imperfect) mechanisms to kill any B or T cell that recognizes something inappropriate. With genetically engineered antibodies, this step is skipped entirely. In fact, I suspect this step is why we don't form natural antibodies to some diseases.
  • Boy, Howdy! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @04:50PM (#31077660)
    If you think that the whack-jobs are ballistic about vaccines, wait they go off the rails for something like this!
    • by ultranova (717540)

      If you think that the whack-jobs are ballistic about vaccines, wait they go off the rails for something like this!

      So? Then they'll end up dying from illnesses the rest of us are immunized to, which is unfortunate from a humanitarian point of view, but that's their own fault, and at least they'll get some herd protection since everyone around them is unable to pass the disease to them. A pity about their children suffering from their parent's stupidity, but maybe they'll wise up once they grow up.

      Then again

      • Re:Boy, Howdy! (Score:4, Informative)

        by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:20PM (#31078992)

        A pity about their children suffering from their parent's stupidity, but maybe they'll wise up once they grow up.

        Alas, not just their own unfortunate kids. Ever read about Dana McCaffery? [danamccaffery.com] She was too young to be vaccinated, and she died of pertussis that the anti-vaxxers brought back. Then one of the local pro-disease dumbasses [discovermagazine.com] went and said that no one ever died of pertussis.

        • Herd immunity (Score:4, Informative)

          by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:44PM (#31079356)

          Ever read about Dana McCaffery? [danamccaffery.com] She was too young to be vaccinated, and she died of pertussis that the anti-vaxxers brought back.

          To be fair, pertussis is an environmental bacterium and is pretty common in adults -- it doesn't need anti-vaxx (aka "pro-disease") loons to "bring [i] back."

          Not so measles -- that's one we could actually send off to join smallpox in the annals of extinct pathogenic viruses. Or we could, if it weren't for people like Andrew Wakefield, who saw a chance to make some money by killing children in the UK. Thus we have babies too young to be vaccinated contracting measles in their paediatricians' waiting rooms because somebody took their unvaccinated darlings to Switzerland and when they came back the little darlings came down sick. http://www.jennymccarthybodycount.com/Jenny_McCarthy_Body_Count/Home.html [jennymccar...ycount.com]

  • So this is, like, vaccination 2.0. Is this a ploy to make vaccination more palatable to the freaks who think vaccines cause autism?
  • by COMON$ (806135) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:02PM (#31077804) Journal
    Maybe I have been reading too much sci-fi lately but arent we closer to using nanotech as an immune system than using biological sources?
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Maybe I have been reading too much sci-fi lately but arent we closer to using nanotech as an immune system than using biological sources?

      To actually apply it in the real world you need mass production and while bacteria and viruses have a working means to reproduce nanotech isn't even close. So I think for a long time to come we will manipulate biological sources into producing the antibodies and amino acids and hormones and whatever else we need. Not to mention that if we can manipulate our own DNA to make it "ours" there's much less chance of rejection or reactions to all the foreign elements. It also helps that all the blueprints are also

      • by COMON$ (806135)
        Ya I was just thinking that our robotics tech was more advanced than our understanding of biology. Creating a series of nanobots that repaired telomeres and attacked foreign items seems simpler than revamping an entire immune system. Not that we shouldn't keep advancing our understanding of biology but our immune systems have been working on getting where they are for a very long time. It might not be wise to mess with that.
  • Star Trek did it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:05PM (#31077862)
    Wasn't there a Star Trek: TNG episode where they did this? Remember how everyone who wasn't engineered was dying?

    Na, that'll never happen.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @05:12PM (#31077972) Journal
    Hey wouldn't it be great if our bodies did this automatically...
    • I'm going to get whooshed for replying to that, but they do, except when diseases kill us faster than we can replenish our pool of Slashdotty sarcastic contrarian commenters.
  • As someone who is allergic to nearly everything, I've taken a keen interest in the immune system.

    I read something a while ago that said allergies and even things like nervous tics could be inherited from a blood transfusion. The idea is that along with the blood cells, you get the donor's white blood cells and antibodies, which then teach your own white blood cells how to make the antibodies, so you wind up with their allergies. It also said that some nervous system things like tics could also be inherited

  • Just don't make the new immunity cells so aggressive that they escape the body and start to eat the ink off of the all books in the world [imdb.com].

  • Rather than merely hoping that the vaccine will indirectly lead to the antibody an individual needs, imagine if we could genetically engineer these antibodies and make them available as needed?

    Just guessing, mind, but maybe because prevention has advantages over cures?

  • I'll take some antibodies for meatloaf, that way Aunt Mary's "specialty" causes an immune response and I can claim to be allergic.
  • Antibodies are only one and not the most important component of the immune reaction against viruses. T-cells are more important and less easy to... engineer, in this sense.
  • From what I remember in a cell bio class the B-Cells arn't programmed to make any specific antibody at first.(They're naive) When a new molecule shows up in the body some of those cells will edit their DNA to produce a specific antibody to that antigen. The ones that don't really match well die off and the ones that have editted their DNA to produce a good match live on to produce that antibody. If I remember right that process is kind of random so it takes quite a few naive B-Cells before one of them edits

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