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ImmunologyImmunology is the science that relates to the immune system in all organism and designates all studies focusing on immune system components and functions in normal or pathological states. Immunology is a key domain in medicine and is a major interest for pharma companies.

The immune system is the defense system of an organism against non-self material such as virus, bacteria, tissues… It relies on a variety of components (B cell, T cell, macrophage, dendritic cells, NK cells, complement…) and processes (inflammation, phagocytosis, complement activation…) that are organised and regulated thanks to cell signalling pathways relying for example on immunomodulating agents such as cytokines.

Two main immune answers can be distinguished:

  • The innate immune answer
    Innate immune answer designates defense mechanisms that are not specific of the foreign component. This response is immediate and short lasting and is found in all multicellular organisms. Innate immune system relies on chemical and physical barriers (first line of defence, example: skin) and responses such as inflammation (the second line of defence). It is mediated by cell and humoral components.

  • The adaptative immune answer
    The adaptative immune answer encompasses all reactions that are specific of the pathogen and that are remembered by the organism. It relies on the recognition of an antigen as non-self by the immune system thanks to antibodies. The resulting answer is adapted to the detected pathogen and after a first infection with a pathogen, the immune system will be able to rapidly eliminate the pathogen each time it infects the organism. This adaptative answer only found in vertebrates.

Sometimes the immune system can malfunction and it results in auto-immune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Auto-immune diseases are conditions where the immune system abnormally reacts against a self body part. Treatments have been developed by pharma companies such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or immunosuppressants. However those usually improves symptoms and don’t cure the disease itself.

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