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Articles on Immunology

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Iron carries oxygen throughout the body, but ironically, it can also make it harder to breathe for people with asthma. Hiroshi Watanabe/Stone via Getty Images

Iron fuels immune cells – and it could make asthma worse

Asthma attacks can result from immune cells overreacting to a harmless allergen. Tamping down iron levels in certain immune cells can help control their activity.
A Bothrops asper is prepared for its venom to be milked to use in making antivenom. Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group

Snakebites: we thought we’d created a winning new antivenom but then it flopped. Why that turned out to be a good thing

By reporting this new way that future antivenoms can fail, the research has highlighted a problem with current antivenom testing recommendations.
Understanding the flexibility of T cell memory can lead to improved vaccines and immunotherapies. Juan Gaertner/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Immune cells can adapt to invading pathogens, deciding whether to fight now or prepare for the next battle

When faced with a threat, T cells have the decision-making flexibility to both clear out the pathogen now and ready themselves for a future encounter.
When immune cells become overactive, your immune system itself can cause disease. NIAID/Flickr

Immune health is all about balance – an immunologist explains why both too strong and too weak an immune response can lead to illness

Dietary supplements claim to be able to ‘boost your immune system’ to combat disease. But attaining immune balance through a healthy lifestyle and vaccination is a safer bet to keep in good health.
Being feverish is unpleasant, but it can help your body overcome invading pathogens. Narisara Nami/Moment via Getty Images

How does fever help fight infections? There’s more to it than even some scientists realize

The heat and chills that come with fever are not only uncomfortable but also metabolically costly. Increased body temperature, however, can make all the difference when you’re sick.
This microscopy image shows a cytotoxic T cell (blue) attacking a cancer cell (green) by releasing toxic chemicals (red). Alex Ritter and Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz and Gillian Griffiths/National Institutes of Health via Flickr

Immune cells that fight cancer become exhausted within hours of first encountering tumors – new research

T cells recognize and kill cancer cells but quickly lose their effectiveness. This fast dysfunction may help explain why immunotherapy doesn’t lead to long-term remission for many patients.
Bacteria (clusters of light pink, surrounded by larger magenta blood cells) can cause deadly infections, but overreactive immune responses can deliver the lethal blow. Scharvik/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Sepsis is one of the most expensive medical conditions in the world – new research clarifies how it can lead to cell death

An overactive immune response to infection can be deadly. Studying how one key player called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF, induces lethal immune responses could provide new treatment targets.

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