The human body is like an exceedingly well-fortified castle, defended by billions of soldiers - some live for less than a day, others remember battles for decades, but all are essential in protecting us from disease. This hidden army is our immune system, and without it we could not survive the eternal war between our microscopic enemies and ourselves.
Immune explores the incredible arsenal that lives within us - how it knows what to attack and what to defend, and how it kills everything from the common cold virus to plague bacteria. We see what happens when the immune system turns on us, and how life is impossible without its protection. We learn how diseases try to evade the immune system and exploit its vulnerabilities, and we discover how scientists are designing new drugs to harness the power of the system to fight disease.
Do transplants ever reject their new bodies? What is pus? How can your body make more antibodies than there are stars in our galaxy? Why is cancer so hard for our immune system to fight? Why do flu outbreaks cause a spike in sleep disorders? Can we smell someone else's immune system, and does that help us subconsciously decide who we fall in love with? In this book, Catherine Carver answers all of these compelling questions, and many more besides.
Drawing on everything from ancient Egyptian medical texts to cutting-edge medical science, Immune will take you on an adventure packed with weird and wonderful revelations about your own internal defensive system.
Catherine Carver completed her first degree in Natural Sciences before going on to study Medicine at the University of Aberdeen, which included time spent in Tanzania working with TB/HIV sufferers. She's worked at the Wellcome Trust and as a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and studied Public Health at Harvard, where she was a Frank Knox Fellow. Now living in Scotland, Catherine is a seasoned science communicator, and she has written blogs for The Lancet, Scientific American, Meducation, Mosaic and The Wellcome Trust.
Preface: Our hidden army 1. Full frontal immunity: The first line of defence 2. A cast of cut-throats: The killer cells that keep us safe 3. Chit-chatting chemicals: How your immune system yells 4. Transplants: Designer vaginas to pig heart perfection 5. Outnumbered: How the immune system manages the body's resident bacteria 6. Immunological tango: Sex and love 7. What a cute parasite: Pregnancy and the immune system 8. A palace for parasites: Worms and fleas and ticks! Oh my! 9. The adaptive assassins: Killing everything from pink-eye to plague 10. Vaccines: A triumph of man's manipulation of the immune system 11. Allergies: Everything you're itching to know 12. Auto-immunity: The science of friendly fire 13. Defenceless: The boy who lived in a bubble 14. Cancer: A deadly spot the difference 15. Killer bugs: Be afraid, be very afraid 16. Clever drugs: Immunological alchemy