An Elegant Defense 1

What’s in it for me? Discover the wild world of the immune system.

The author, Matt Richtel, put pen to paper when he witnessed a miracle.  His dear friend Jason Greenstein, who’d been on the verge of succumbing to cancer, was cured. Thanks to a new drug that harnesses the powers of the immune system, he was able to beat the unbeatable. That’s when Richtel decided to write An Elegant Defense. The seemingly miraculous recovery of his friend had ignited his imagination. If we could tinker with the human immune system and tap into its awesome power – and with such amazing results! – then what disease couldn’t we conquer? In his book, Richtel went on to lay out the history of immunology – the branch of medicine dedicated to the immune system. And he told that history in an unconventional way, weaving it together with the personal stories of four people whose health conditions dovetail with advances in the field.  In these readims, we’ll follow Richtel’s lead and take a whirlwind tour of that history, and then we’ll focus on one of those stories – Jason’s, which has an important lesson to teach us about both the progress and the limits of our ability to direct and command our elegant defense. In these readims, you’ll also learn: the difference between a neutrophil and a dendritic cell; which animals led to the discovery of the immune system; and why it’s dangerous when the immune system overreacts.

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