Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 21, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963855 | Print ISBN: 9781412941860 | Online ISBN: 9781412963855| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Melissa K. Wolinski
In the late 18th century Dr. Edward Jenner stumbled upon the notion of the immune system following his discovery that cowpox protected him against a human pathogen known as smallpox. This process of immunity by introduction of more mild strains of a disease became known as vaccination. Unfortunately, very little was understood about the etiology of infection and the subsequent induction of the host immune response. Dr. Robert Koch, over 100 years later, established the first relationship between cause and effect as it relates to infection. Out of his work came specific postulates used to understand which pathogens are fundamentally responsible for specific diseases and what components of those pathogens contribute to disease progression. The concept of immunology was born. Immunology is the study of the immune system, the primary defense mechanism of the body. In humans, the immune system is composed of specific immune cells and produces and utilizes ...