Allergic and Immunologic Disorders

Most major human conditions, including cancer, infection, autoimmunity and allergy involve the immune system highlighting the important role of immunology as a system-based discipline with a central role in almost every speciality and sub-speciality of medicine. The last century witnessed landmark developments beginning with Ehrlich’s description of humoral immunity, Metchnikoff’s discovery of phagocytosis and cellular immunity leading to an understanding of the importance of lymphocytes in host immunity, Burnet’s self-versus non-self-hypothesis and theory of clonal selection, discovery of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) first in the mouse system and then the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) system in man. These discoveries were followed by the description of MHC restriction that led to a greater understanding of immunobiology, and mechanism of antigen presentation and of host immunity. These developments were helpful in overcoming the immunological barrier in organ and haematopoietic stem-cell transplantation that laid the foundation for the establishment of transplant immunology and clinical immunogenetics as a distinct arm of immunology. The century also witnessed numerous Nobel Prizes to eminent stalwarts for their epoch-making discoveries.

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