Scientists Find a New Form of Immunity

(From The

The “bad apples” of the immune system are also its secret weapon, according to major Australian research published today in the world-leading journal Science.

In a world first, scientists from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research have revealed how a population of “bad” antibodies in the immune system — which are usually “silenced” because they can harm the body — can provide crucial protection against invading microbes. The research was carried out in mice.

The “bad” antibodies are known to react against the body’s own tissues and can cause autoimmune disease. For this reason, it was once thought that they were discarded by the immune system or that they were made inactive in the long term. However, the new findings show for the first time that “bad” antibodies go through a rapid “redemption” process and are activated when the body is faced with a disease threat that other antibodies cannot tackle.

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