From generation to generation and cell to cell the genetic information that governs how human beings are shaped has flowed through our bodies for hundreds of thousands of years, yet it remains surprisingly intact. Which led science to believe that the DNA was extremely resilient and was able withstand daily damage from radiation and other reactive molecules, which the Nobel Prize winners of 2015 proved was not the case.
The foundation of who we are, is created when 23 chromosomes from sperm combines with 23 chromosomes from an egg. It is this fusion that combines all the genetic information and operating instructions that are copied with each cell division. Many billions of cell divisions later and although the genetic material has been copied so many times, the most recent copy is remarkably similar to the original that was created in the fertilised egg, which from a chemical perspective ought to be impossible.
The Nobel prize winners were able to establish that our DNA is able to remain intact, year after year, due to a host of molecular repair mechanisms and swarms of proteins that monitor the genes. The research identified that there are thousands of protein cells that act as the DNA’s repair kit. Part of the work of the repair proteins is to mark faulty DNA strands and activate replacement strands and also to identify rogue cells that have broken through the body’s defence systems.
The immune system is an amazingly complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to defend the body against attack from germs, bacteria, parasites and fungi. This elaborate network of millions and millions of cells have the ability to pass information back and forth and have the ability to distinguish between the body’s own cells ( ‘self’ cells) and foreign cells ( ‘nonself’ cells ). When foreign cells are identified the Immune System has the ability to recognise the intruder and has an arsenal of defence and killer cells that can be employed to protect the body.
The Immune system is positioned throughout the body and includes Bone Marrow, the thymus, lymph nodes, the spleen, lymphoid tissues all of which work together to communicate and produce antibodies and killer cells. Any invading foreign cells are tagged by the immune system and with the ability to remember the precise killer mechanism the system activates the precise cells. In this way the correct cells are used to fight a cough as apposed to healing a wound on the skin that has become infected.
The Immune system is always on guard and has cells constantly monitoring the whole body and can receive messages from the brain and nervous system and stress hormones have been shown to suppress the protective ability of the Immune System.