War Inside Our Bodies Living with Inflammatory Disease, Our bodies rely on a complex immune system to keep us healthy, but for those with inflammatory disease it can feel as if their immune system has turned against them. With International Day of Immunology coming up on 29 April, Rebecca Scott talks to researchers working to understand immune dysfunction in diseases such as MS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Around the world, millions of people suffer from inflammatory diseases, which has a number of classifications. In industrialised nations around five per cent of the population suffers inflammatory disease resulting from autoimmune conditions where the body’s own tissues are directly attacked by its immune responses.
Although symptoms can vary greatly within the classification, the similarity between inflammatory disease caused by autoimmune failure and those resulting from other causes is that in both cases, white blood cells (T cells) that typically work to fight infection are not functioning correctly. In short, the body’s natural immune system attacks its own tissue instead of a foreign bacteria or invading infection, resulting in damage to the body’s tissues and the development of an autoimmune disease.