From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
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- Travis J. (2009) On the Origin of The Immune System. Science 324:580-2.
- Excerpt: Darwin's elaboration of diversification and natural selection as organizingprinciples of life inspired early immunologists,helping them see that humans and pathogens are locked in their own survival of-the-fittest battle. His theory also helped researchers realize that some of our immune defenses depend on a system of diversity coupled with selection among proteins.
- As this newfound evolutionary mindset shaped immunological thinking near the turn of the 19th century, researchers also began to speculate about how our complex system of defenses arose. After decades of research, modern immunologists now think that single celled organisms must have started by harnessing toxic peptides and gene-disabling molecules to thwart invading microbes-these weapons are still found in the simplest eukaryotes and more complex animals. And then when multicellular creatures evolved, they were able to devote specialized cells to tasks such as engulfing bacteria and viruses.