Takin’ one for the team.
What’s the News: Clearly, as anyone suffering through a cold right now can tell you, our immune systems aren’t all they could be when it comes to keeping us disease-free. And what’s worse, the same viruses that have some people hawking up phlegm for weeks can give their roommates or spouses no more than a brief sniffle, hammering home the fact that the immune system wealth isn’t distributed evenly. Why hasn’t evolution dealt with this problem already and given us all impenetrable defenses?
As it turns out, it’s not just that evolution takes its own sweet time. It’s also that a species benefits from having individuals be immune to some things and vulnerable to others, a new study shows.
What’s the News: For someone with severe peanut allergies, the tiniest trace of the nut makes their immune system go into overdrive, attacking what it perceives as an intruder so vehemently that the person can go into anaphylactic shock. Scientists may have found a way to calm that immune overreaction, a new study in rats shows, by tacking peanut proteins onto certain immune cells, effectively teaching the whole system that peanuts aren’t a threat.
…three pioneers of the study of the immune system, who have helped pin down how the body reacts to invaders both with broad strokes and with exquisitely targeted weapons. But there’s a bittersweet note to the congratulations and celebrations this year: we’ve just learned that one of the Laureates-to-be died three days ago. And that may jeopardize his prize.
UPDATE 1:52 PM: The Committee has just announce that Steinman will remain a Laureate.