Summary & Study Guide - An Elegant Defense by Lee Tang

The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System

The must-read summary of “An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System,” by Matt Richtel.

Summary & study guide - an elegant defense

A Comprehensive Primer on the Human Immune System.

The must-read summary of “An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System,” by Matt Richtel.

The immune system defends people against germs and microorganisms every day. In most cases, it does a great job of keeping people healthy and preventing infections. But it can easily be compromised by fatigue, stress, toxins, advanced age, and poor nutrition. Problems with the immune system can lead to illness and infection. An unchecked immune system can attack the body's own cells and damage its own organs. Scientists call it autoimmunity, which affects 20 percent of Americans.

This book tells you the story of how scientists:

Read this book to better understand one of the enduring mysteries of human biology.
This guide includes:

Value-added from this guide:

Genre: STUDY AIDS / Study Guides

Secondary Genre: HEALTH & FITNESS / Diseases / Immune System

Language: English

Keywords: Autoimmunity, antibodies, vaccines, arthritis, AIDS, epidemics, cancer

Word Count: 16.500

Sample text:

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 led to soaring incidences of leukemia. In 1956, Dr. Jacques Miller joined the Chester Beatty Research Institute as a research fellow focusing on cancer. His research on radiation and leukemia in mice has led to the discovery of T cell’s origin.

Dr. Miller's experiments involved extracting leukemic tissue from a mouse with cancer, grinding the tissue down into a liquid, and injecting it into mice with a low propensity to get leukemia. He found that a mouse with an immature thymus contracted leukemia, while a mouse with a mature thymus did not. He also found that mice with their thymuses removed were losing weight, shrinking and more susceptible to infections.

To prove that thymus was important for the immune system to function, Dr. Miller removed the thymus from baby mice and put foreign skin grafts onto the mice. He found that the mice did not reject such skin. A healthy immune system would have rejected the foreign tissue. This meant their immune system had failed. Dr. Miller also observed a reduction in certain populations of white blood cells in those mice. He called those white blood cells Thymus-derived cells, or T cells.

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