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 us and our microscopic enemies.
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 to the plague bacterium. We see what happens when the immune system turns on us, and conversely how impossible life is without its protection. We learn how diseases try to evade the immune system, how they exploit vulnerabilities and even subvert it to their own advantage, and we discover how scientists are designing new drugs to harness the power of the system to advance medicine in the 21st century.
Some of the topics explored include why are so many people allergic to cats, but so few to hamsters? Do transplants ever reject their new bodies? What is pus? How does your body develop new weapons for new enemies? Why is cancer so hard for our immune system to fight? How does our immune system remember? Why did the 1918 flu pandemic kill mainly young, healthy people? Why did the 2009 swine flu outbreak lead to 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?
Immune provides an entertaining, intriguing, and accessible account of the body’s defenses against disease. Drawing on everything from ancient Egyptian medical texts to cutting-edge medical science, the book takes readers on an adventure packed with weird and wonderful facts about their own defense mechanisms, making this both informative and great fun to read.