Hey guys, Jarred here! A bit about me first: I’m an aspiring medical student currently in year 12, studying Chemistry, Biology, History and Maths. My aim is in the title, I would love to become a Doctor and help out the world! Therefore, this blog is going to be my journey, from start to finish, documenting any thoughts I have on topics or advancements in medicine and the opportunities and experiences I have during WEX. I hope you readers enjoy my blog, and enjoy following me on my adventure, thanks guys!
Today, the topic is Immunology. Recently, in Biology, we have been studying about the immune system and disease. This has got me interested, and I decided to do a bit of research! Here’s what I found…
To start with, a definition: Immunology- The branch of medicine regarding and dealing with immunity. This will therefore encompass many things e.g. the immune system, diseases and pathogens and advancements in medicine such as vaccines. During my research, I found out how the immune system works, which briefly, is due to the antigens (proteins on pathogen membrane surfaces) being recognized by white blood cells, followed by the Primary Immune response encompassing T cells, B cells and antibodies, which will lead to the destruction of the pathogen and the immunological memory. This therefore can lead to many advancements or problems. The main problem around at the moment in my opinion is the Influenza virus. “The unique nature of the influenza virus is it’s great potential for change, for mutation.” This quote from Margaret Chan (Chinese WHO director) reveals to us the major problem that makes influenza such a deadly and concerning disease. Due to antigen shift, the influenza pathogen is extremely hard to map, and hence hard to prevent or vaccinate against, as different strains appear constantly. Therefore, at the moment, the best we can do is to vaccinate the most vulnerable against the pre-existing strains, and attempt to find a solution to the problem. Recent advancements have included the creation of a quadrivalent influenza vaccine which has further prevented influenza followed by a serious advancement in the manufacture of the vaccine. This is a recombinant influenza vaccine, that no longer requires fertilized eggs, thus speeding up the production, and an intradermal vaccine (less antigen required) which will spread the vaccine around, further helping prevent influenza, as it also presents a serious problem in effectiveness globally as confirmed by “kids die of influenza, both in the United States and Japan, and if you give the drug to people at risk of dying, there will be people who die who got the drug” by Robert Nelson. Finally, the influenza virus can be dangerous when it undergoes a mutation causing a species jump. An example is the Avian flu (H5N1) scare of the early 21st century and late 90s. The bird strain of the virus mutated and spread to humans, thus causing many deaths before a vaccine was created. Hence, since an influenza virus molecule can do this, it prevents a huge risk.
In conclusion, I believe that immunology is going to be a serious part of medicine during the years to come, with growing priority being given to preventing and protecting against communicable diseases such as the influenza virus. Therefore, advancements in this area will be extremely proliferant, and hence an amazing part of Medicine!
Thanks for spending time reading this, and I hope you enjoyed and were educated, thanks Jarred.