The whole science of Vaccinology and its parent Immunology is based on the need to provide a rational underpinning to the practice of vaccination. To justify Jenner.
Being as Jenner is unjustifiable, nor the practice he bestowed us with, we have to revisit the assumptions of these two sciences, to ascertain which, if any, we can continue to use and in which circumstances.
So “immunoglobins” – “antibodies” – are a case in point. As is the generic title “The Immune System”. They are labelled as having a specific intent, as being an evolutionary outcome. But this labelling is, or has been, made looking backwards, using the justification process. I certainly feel that such labels cannot be so derived but should be of the present or, better, made looking forward.
There would thus be a systems based, holistic examination as to the operational application by one’s physiology of the processes illustrated and described in such painstaking detail by the technocratista in their gleamingly well equipped laboratories.
At present, all of their work, published with oh so impressive and remarkably detailed three dimensional drawings of physical structure and operational functionality, are mere speculation, based on in vitro experimentation, and all predicated upon the assumptions of Jenner.
There is an oft used phrase in modern medical dialogue – they say that “The Science is all in and the case is proven”, or words to that effect. I cringe at such comments and not only because of the appalling use of English. There are objectively observed data which we have to interpret. We have a pretty constant updating of those facts and the data pile is always increasing, but the science is never finished – we will always extend our understandings and see new connections.
Recently, for example, a new element was described in the alimentary canal – the mesentery, a “double fold in the peritoneum”. Now they must clarify its impacts, which seem quite wide ranging, including supposed immune functionality. Clearly this science is very ongoing. [http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/langas/PIIS2468-1253(16)30026-7.pdf]
There are many other such frontiers such as the new connecting fibres “between cerebral tissue and the immune system”
Much very elaborate description of the host of physiological responses to antigenic challenge, chiefly in vitro, have been made. Elegant textbooks, such as Janesway et al’s “Vaccinology”, are full of multivarious pages of, dare I say, deterministic descriptors, accompanied with multicoloured and three dimentional diagrams. They read like, they look like, an automobile “Hayne’s Manual” I sometimes joke – the pictures are so good and the descriptions of function so clear and without doubt.
Each part certified by the manufacturer – “we will replace if not fully satisfied with performance”. We now have twenty first century immunological accuracy with no room for any hint of a mistake.
Or so you would think reading Janesway……..
Life, as we all should know, and as I described earlier, is not like that. There is no manual, there was no design team, this system has been devised by the accumulation of countless minor changes over well nigh four billion years, accelerating in the last few hundred million. Systems work and are so well integrated with others, within and outside each and every organism. There is call and response, there are echoes of impacts and shimmering messages are transmitted always, in all directions, in all perpetuity.
We label some as “immune physiology”. That’s what we, in the last one hundred years, have termed them. It is a useful terminology and has some reasonable application. But our labels, our observations do not have the subtleties of so many million years. We should stand back a bit and just watch in awe.