Immunology for non-immunologists

A virtual space to talk and explore immunology


Find out the basics of your immune system,
its power and complexity.

Learn how it works and how to take care of it to serve you well. 

Learn about disorders of the immune system and treatments harnessing the power of immunity. 


The immune system is made up of different organs, tissues, cells and molecules that work together to protect you from germs such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or clear abnormal cells such as malignancies. It’s like an army, where everyone has a specific task and everyone works together in a very coordinated way.  


Human immune system is an elegant, complex and powerful tool to fight infections and keep our bodies in a healthy state. Immunologically, health means an immune system is in homeostasis and the host is immune competent. Many factors influence state of immunity, both genetic and environmental, but also psychosocial.


Causes of death have dramatically changed from 100 years ago to now, thanks to the development of vaccines and use of antibiotics. In 1900 top killers included pneumonia or influenza, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections while in 2010, major contributors of death were heart disease and cancer. Nevertheless, new infectious outbreaks continuously emerge in human populations, an obvious reminder of this being a recent pandemic of SARS-CoV-2, but also previous outbreaks of avian influenza, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Zika virus or HIV. 


Vaccines are unequivocally the biggest success of a modern medicine. Thanks to vaccines, majority of childhood infections, such as chickenpox, measles or rubella are successfully controlled in the human populations. 


In situations when immune system underperforms and does not clear aberrant cells, cancer can develop. More than 200 different cancers have been identified so far. What is known is that certain lifestyle choices increase risk of cancer, for example, smoking, excessive exposure to sun, obesity, but also some links of psychological disturbances have been made with cancer outcomes.


Immune system like any other system may improperly function due to inborn or acquired errors. For example, it can become inappropriately activated in allergies or in autoimmunity, or it can underperform due to immunodeficiencies. 


Immunotherapy represents a therapeutic revolution in medicine where understandings of immunology are directly translated into precision medicines. The goal of the immunotherapy is to activate or suppress the malfunctioning immune system through modalities created based on our own immune system such as monoclonal antibodies, cytokines, peptides, cell-based therapies.