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The immune system is comprised of cells, organs and tissues and it protects the body against bacteria, viruses and other parasites. If the immune system does not work right then we could suffer from various diseases. Immunology is the study of the immune systems in all organisms.

Immune System | Image source: myelitis.org


Definition of immunology
Immunology deals with the functioning of the immune system. It is a very important branch of medical and biological science. It has application in various disciplines of medicine particularly in organ transplantation, oncology, virology, bacteriology, parasitology and dermatology.

Many components of the immune system are cellular in nature and are not associated with any organ. The important organs of the immune system are the thymus and bone marrow. The main tissues are spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids and liver.

Basics of immunology
Anything that causes the immune system to respond is called an antigen. An antigen can be harmless. Disease causing antigens are called pathogens. The immune system is designed to protect the body from pathogens.

The immune system can be studied based on molecular and cellular components. Their function and interaction form the study of immunology. This is divided into two types - static and responsive. Static is innate to the organism and responsive is adaptive to pathogens.

Simple organisms develop a defence system against pathogens. This keeps the infection under check for a few days. Once this first layer of defence is overwhelmed the adaptive immune system takes over. This adaptive system is specific to the pathogen.

Did you know: The responsive immune system has the capability to save information about the pathogen as memory which can be reused for a better response during subsequent invasions.

More on immunology

Classical immunology
This is the traditional approach to immunology. It is the study of the association between immunity, pathogens and medicine. It involves cellular and molecular components. The antigens generate antibodies that activate the immune system against infection.

Classical immunology has formed the basis for modern discoveries and new techniques to fight against diseases.

Clinical immunology
Clinical immunology involves the study of diseases caused by the disorder of the immune system. It also includes diseases of other systems where immune reactions are  apart in pathology and clinical features. Diseases caused by the disorder of the immune system are of two types. One is where parts of the immune system fail to give a response and the other is where the immune system itself attacks the host body.

Developmental immunology
The ability to respond to pathogens depends on the age of the person. The immune system is yet to reach maturity in babies and it also tends to weaken with old age. Thus both extremes of age have relatively weaker immune systems and are more prone to invasions.

Did you know: The immune system starts in the fetus and this development continues even after reaching adulthood.

Diagnostic immunology
The bond between the antigen and antibodies has become an excellent tool for the detection of substance. This includes tests and research to help detect immunodeficiency.

Cancer immunology
This includes the study of the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells. This helps in diagnostic tests and therapies which can be used to find and fight cancer.

Reproductive immunology
It is the study of the immunological aspect of the reproductive process including fetus acceptance.

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