Fwd: Re: [FoRK] avian flu/home grown/PastFutureTense/retraction

Stephen D. Williams sdw
Fri Oct 14 16:37:56 PDT 2005

I thought I clearly alluded to those complications in my later paragraph.

Possibly our disagreement, or your missing piece of knowledge, is that 
everyone's immune system is different.
I can't do it justice (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_system ), 
but I was taught in medical school (Mini-Medical School that is) that 
the immune capabilities include a fixed number of molecular patterns 
that are derived from mixing and matching from the parental sets.  This 
means that only a finite set of molecular patterns can be matched and 
that finite set is different for each person.  (I can't remember if this 
concerns cytokines or T-Cell matching.)

I believe I've heard estimates that 5% of humans are immune to HIV.  
This is the kind of thing I was referring to.

To wit:


Kevin Elliott wrote:

> At 23:42 -0400  on  10/13/05, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>> To answer the immunity comment: I was referring to "natural 
>> immunity", i.e. the capability >of someone to A) avoid noticable 
>> infection and/or B) to survive infection either because
>> their immune system reacts quickly enough or they just don't have the 
>> protein structure for
>> a particular virus to bind to.  Those kinds of immunity ARE 
>> inherited, with lots of random
>> exchanges and "mutations", and are said to be the whole point of 
>> dual-sex reproduction.
>> The presence of particular antibodies is not passed on (except some 
>> mother->child), but the >ability to make those antibodies to a 
>> particular response definitely is inheritable most of >time.
> I think what's missing from your analysis is the very complicated 
> issue of exactly how a given person at the time developed 
> immunity/survived:
> Were they exposed to the "full strength" variant or a weaker mutation 
> that their body fought off and in the process developed antibodies 
> that were also effect against the full strength variant?
> Did they ever have the disease at all or did the merely avoid exposure?
> Even if they survived the full strength virus was this because of a 
> superior immune system or simply because their immune system tripped 
> over an effective antibody earlier than "normal"?
> My impressions is that for most viral infections the body is CAPABLE 
> of synthesizing effective antibodies.  The issue of survival comes 
> down to a race between the bodies ability to adapt and the viruses 
> ability to mutate and/or kill the host.  I actually think this bodes 
> well for the first world in the case of a catastrophic avian flu 
> epidemic- at the turn of the century 1st and 3rd world medicine were 
> much closer to each other than they are today.  With the life support 
> mechanism available today, I would think we'd be much more capable of 
> sustaining life long enough for the bodies natural antibodies to win 
> the battle.

More information about the FoRK mailing list