Stress and ImmunityFrom Starving Cavemen to Stressed-Out Scientists
Scientists in Australia have recently discovered the first clear molecular process that helps to explain how stress suppresses our immune defenses and makes us more vulnerable to getting sick. Has a biological system that worked well for early humans faced with starvation turned against those of us living with the many new stresses of modern society?
Climb Aboard! Neuroimmunology Is Leaving the Station
Neuroimmunology took off because two established disciplines began to find surprising connections where only disjunctions had been seen. Scientists began to realize that some of the same processes and substances were at work in both the nervous and immune systems—and the race was on. In a decade or less, the investigators interviewed by Asbury have made discoveries about immune activity in the brain, the role of inflammation in both systems, and the nature of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Patients Have Been Too Patient With Basic Research
Steinman has devoted his long career to pioneering studies of immunology. Basic research of this kind has been hugely productive, he says, but its potential benefits for treating serious illnesses are taking too long to reach patients. We are failing to maintain a crucial transmission belt between basic research and clinical applications: the physician-scientist. We must take immediate and effective steps to reverse this trend, because our lives “may one day depend upon the progress of medicine.”