University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society >  'Infection and autoimmunity: there may be some advantages to co-habitation'

'Infection and autoimmunity: there may be some advantages to co-habitation'

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followed by a wine reception FREE for members/ 2 pounds for non-members

Compared to a few centuries ago, our childhood is quite protected. Our mothers make sure our milk bottles are sterilized, our toys are germ-free and our scratches treated well. This has given rise to the hygiene hypothesis: we may might just be giving our immune system too much of a helping hand. This may be the reason that we see an increasing number of young people with autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases arise as a result of an attack by an individual’s immune system against self tissue. Apart from environmental factors as mentioned above genetics may play a vital role. An example of this is Type I diabetes, which was lethal until insulin was discovered in the 1920s. The observed increase in people acquiring these diseases cannot be accounted for by genetics alone and scientists are exploring possible roles infections might play. Prof Anne Cooke is going to demonstrate how all those inconvenient infections our parents are trying to protect us from could provide us with long term protection against the development of autoimmune diseases like diabetes. By pointing out the complex relationships between humans and infectious organisms that have arisen through co-evolution she will explain how these can be beneficial for us and also what future treatment possibilities we can expect from this knowledge.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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