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Immunology is the study of our immune system, a highly sophisticated system that defends us against all disease-causing invaders by identifying and neutralizing such threats. Even though we might get sick every now and then, the immune system does an incredible job of warding off infection given how many infectious agents (thousands!) we come into contact with every day. This becomes most apparent when a healthy individual compares himself or herself to an individual with little or no immune response who cannot survive in a normal environment and must rely on specialized rooms much cleaner than even a surgery room. Before the discovery of immunity, we used to associate sickness and disease various superstitions and beliefs. Only with the discovery of bacteria, viruses, and our own cells did scientists slowly piece together the modern theory of our immune system. Our overall system can be broken down into two sub-systems, each with its own unique cells, molecules, and functions. Our cells are in turn capable of recognizing billions of different patterns of molecules, all of them alien to ourselves, which helps us identify foreign invaders. It is important to recognize that, as with any system in our body, when the immune system malfunctions, disease can result. This course we will take a look at what happens when an inappropriate immune response takes place.
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