Fall issue of Stanford Medicine reports on the immune system's balancing act

The new issue includes “Balancing act: The immune system,” a series of articles on how the immune system protects us and what happens when it becomes overzealous.

If you want to understand the human immune system, try studying humans — not mice, urges Mark Davis, PhD, in a special report on the immune system in the new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine.

For decades, most research on the immune system has used mice. Davis, director of Stanford’s Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection, launched Stanford’s Human Immune Monitoring Center a few years ago to change the immunology research paradigm.

“Inbred mice have not, in most cases, been a reliable guide for developing treatments for human immunological diseases,” Davis said in the special report, titled “Balancing act: The immune system.”

Now the center is in the midst of its largest study so far — one to figure out the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. A team led by professor of infectious diseases José Montoya, MD, is looking for meaningful patterns in the components of blood samples gathered from 200 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 400 healthy subjects.

“It’s like dumping a hundred different puzzles on the floor and trying to find two pieces that fit,” Davis said.

Also covered in this issue:

The issue also includes an article on efforts at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System to use peer-support services to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a story on the growing concern that biomedical research results are often erroneous and efforts being made to solve the problem.

The issue was funded in part by the Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection.

The magazine is available online at http://stanmed.stanford.edu. Print copies are being sent to subscribers. Others can request a copy at (650) 723-6911 or by sending an email to medmag@stanford.edu


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