What to do when immunity wanes
Full article on Stanford Medicine, Spring 2009
Optimizing vaccines for older immune systems will be easier when scientists understand what causes the decline. A Stanford flu-vaccine study now under way aims to do just that, by analyzing differences between older and younger people's immune responses to the influenza vaccine, as well as between older vaccinees who contract flu and those who don't.
A long-term goal of the study is to characterize the healthy immune system, says Mark Davis, PhD, director of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, who's collaborating with Dekker on the project. "The immune system is one of the last major health systems in the body that doesn't have benchmarks of normal functioning," says Davis. "I'd like to broaden that to the whole population, and make an immunological checkup as common as a cholesterol test. We're going to try to define, at the molecular and cellular levels, what a normal response looks like."
Tapping the immune system's secrets
Full article on Stanford Medicine, Summer 2011
So, how’s your immune system doing? It’s not a question you’ve likely heard before. Give it about five years, though, and that will all change, if a forward-looking pack of Stanford immunologists have their way.
These scientists are out to generate a simple battery of tests, performed on blood obtained from a single needle-stick in a doctor’s office, to let you know what shape your immune system is in. Not just whether it’s acting up, or idling too slow, but specifics you and your doctor could use to guide your next medical move.