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History of our Immune System
Transcript of History of our Immune System
Europe during the 14th century
The Plague also known as the Black Death killed millions of people
between 1348-1353, 30 million dead
over the next 400 years, more than 50 million died (out of a total population in Europe of just over 100 million people)
more than half of people who got sick died
What happened long ago when people got sick?
Civilizations over time created stories about what caused illness. In some cultures:
Gods could protect or harm people
the powers of the Sun, Moon, stars and planets impacted human life
superstition was the norm
people used materials (plants) in their environment to attempt to heal others
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
Developed a microscope that
could magnify up to 300 times.
He may have been the first person to observe germs today we call bacteria.
It took another 250 years before people consider how germs influenced our lives.
Invention - Microscopes
Invented around 1600 CE, able to magnify by 20 - 30x
Edward Jenner was a country doctor in the late 1700s in England
noticed that farm girls who milked cows never got smallpox
those same girls came down with cowpox, which was harmless
after 25 years of study he inoculated a boy with cowpox
a few weeks later he tried to infect him with smallpox
it didn't work, the first vaccine was discovered
Chemist, Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
Encourage wine makers to clean their vats to kill the microorganisms that were eating the yeast cells.
He used Jenner's methods with cowpox to protect chickens from cholera germs
At the time, no one knew what caused the plague or how it was spread.
illness came from the fleas on rats
trading ships filled with rats moved the illness around the different port cities in Europe
people passed it person to person through cough
why did some NOT get sick?
In 1665 Robert Hooke invented a
microscope. He coined the term "cell"
when he described the small
openings he saw in wood looking
like the cells of monks in monasteries.
That term, "cell" later became used to
describe the small building blocks of
The last known case of smallpox was in 1977.
When left alone for a while, the cholera germs were weakened. He injected those germs into healthy chickens and watched as they were protected from the disease.
Joseph Lister (an English surgeon) insisted on hand washing, cleaning of surgical tools and wound sites. Infection rates of his patients fell from 50%-85% to 3%!
Elie Metchnikoff (a Russian scientist) was studying starfish larvae. He injected a harmless red dye into the larvae and watched cells "eat them".
He nicknamed these cells, "big eaters" or macrophages. Today we call what he saw happen, natural immunity.
And the study of the immune system began.