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Working to harness the power of the body’s own immune system

Guest Contributor   |     September 7, 2017   |   SHARE THIS

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Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.

Today, we are pleased to share a blog post from Christina Trout, a research and drug discovery scientist at Celgene.


The human body is comprised of many fascinating and complex systems. One of which, our body’s immune system, is capable of protecting us from infection and disease. Within this system, white blood cells play a starring role.

White blood cells rush to the body’s defense at the first sign of assault, attacking foreign pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. White blood cells even act to destroy rogue cells which may potentially turn cancerous. But did you know that there are many types of white blood cells at play, each with a different role in fighting off disease?

Macrophages are one such type of specialized white blood cell, and are a key player in our “innate” immune response, providing the first line of defense against many pathogens. These macrophages play a starring role in a new video as part of America’s biopharmaceutical companies GOBOLDLY campaign.

Macrophages seek out and destroy invading viruses, bacteria, and defective cells through a process called phagocytosis. During phagocytosis, the macrophage surrounds and engulfs the invading pathogen or distressed cell. The macrophage uses enzymes to digest and ultimately destroy the unwanted material.

Macrophages also play an essential role in activating our “adaptive”, or fine-tuned, immune response. Once a macrophage ingests a pathogen or defective cell, the macrophage then displays the digested proteins, or “antigens”, on its surface. This then alerts other types of white blood cells – T cells and B cells – to seek out and attack the unwanted invader. T cells can destroy infected cells directly, and B cells can secrete antibodies to intercept the invader. Working together, these various immune cells stop the pathogen in its tracks.

America’s biopharmaceutical companies, through innovative research and rapidly expanding scientific knowledge, are working to harness the power of the body’s own immune system. Promising immunotherapies are on the horizon, not only for fighting infectious diseases, but combatting cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, and counteracting devastating autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

To see more about the new era of medicine, visit Innovation.org

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view on issues facing our industry and the health care system.

Topics: GoBoldly

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