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Therapeutic research area: Immunology & Respiratory by Julia Stuthe, Director Pharmaceutical & Biotech Markets

Focusing on immunology and scientific research in the broadest sense, I am also inspired by Professor Peter Doherty. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 with Swiss colleague Rolf Zinkernagel, for their discovery of how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells. His research is mainly in the area of defense against viruses. He regularly devotes time to delivering public lectures, writing articles for newspapers and magazines and participating in radio discussions, which are a real treat. Below, I’d like to capture some of his introductory thoughts around immunology.

Immunology is the branch of biomedical sciences concerned with all aspects of the immune system in all multicellular organisms. Biomedical researchers probe the mechanistic basis of health and disease. Recently the field sees an extraordinary (and continuing) revolution in medical understanding and human well-being. Researchers gain deeper understanding into how our specific (or adaptive) immune response protects us, especially if we’re vaccinated.

Key technical advance

Along with successive conceptual breakthroughs, various disruptive technologies have transformed the working lives of disease detectives. Recently, thinking is increasingly dictated by the need to engage with massive data sets. And it’s often the case that big discoveries follow some key technical advance rather than a “eureka” moment. New and better data allows researchers to move to greater clarity. 

Two well-followed examples

Advances in immunology affect all of us. Two well-followed examples – The flu - no one wants to catch the flu, and the best line of defense is the seasonal influenza vaccine. But producing an effective annual flu shot relies on accurately predicting which flu strains are most likely to infect the population in any given season. It requires the coordination of multiple health centers around the globe as the virus travels from region to region. And what we’re seeing now with the Zika virus is a classic “virgin soil” epidemic in the Americas: nobody is protected by prior experience and (though they may show few clinical signs) the virus multiplies in the blood of anyone bitten by an infected Aedes. In subsequent years, there will be fewer susceptible people and the extent of infection will tail off.

Immunology & Respiratory newsletter focus

Our newsletter specifically focuses on Immunology and Respiratory Diseases, as it has been recognized that respiratory diseases such as COPD or Asthma are heterozygous syndromes that are often associated with an aberrant immune response of the afflicted patient. Therefore many industry-based and academic research groups are creating new comprehensive research therapeutic areas that combine studies into respiratory diseases with expertise in immunology.

Advancing knowledge

The next few months sees conferences both in the fields of Immunology & Respiratory Research, the Pharmaceutical Sciences World Congress to advance knowledge, as well as some of the major annual librarian conferences and we look forward to meeting you there! Feel free to contact me to set up an appointment or to discuss this topic.

All relevant Springer Nature content on Immunology & Respiratory