Scientists love analogies. We use them continually to communicate our scientific approaches and discoveries.
We’re outnumbered by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that can make us ill. And the only thing standing between them and our devastation is our immune system. The immune system does such a good job most of the time that we only really think about it when things go wrong. But to provide such excellent protection against a whole host of pathogens, our immune system must constantly learn.
We’ve known since the turn of the 20th century that some infectious diseases are a major risk for developing specific cancers. More worryingly, about one-sixth of cancers worldwide are attributable to infectious agents. Globally, more than 2m cancer cases are linked to certain carcinogenic viral, bacterial or parasitic agents. Two-thirds of these occur in developing countries.
One in every ten babies in Melbourne develops a food allergy during their first year of life. New research has found children who are born with overly active immune cells are more likely to develop allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat and other common foods. This finding could lead to future treatments for babies to prevent childhood food allergies.