Volume 3, Issue 2, August 2008
KWOK, SY Janette
Associate Consultant, Division of Transplantation and Immunogenetics, Department of Pathology and Clinical Biochemistry, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong
Immunogenetics is the study of the immune response in relation to genetic makeup. The immune system protects the vertebrates from all potential harmful infectious agents such as bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites. The growing understanding of the immune system has influenced diversified biomedical disciplines, and is playing a significant role in the study and treatment of many diseases such as cancer and autoimmune conditions.
The launch of immunogenetics could be traced back to the demonstration of Mendelian inheritance of the human ABO blood grouping in 1910. Major developments leading to the emergence of immunogenetics were accounted by the rediscovery of allograft reactions during the Second World War and the formulation of the immunological theory of a llograft reaction and the clonal selection hypothesis by Burnett in 1959.
The field of immunogenetics has exploded during the last 25 years, thus expanding the range of concepts with the potential to improve the field of medicine with regard to transplantation, immunotherapy and the study of immune polymorphisms. Immunogenetics has poised on the brink of a new era, driven by the development of new technologies and shaped by fundamental discoveries about the mech anisms that regulate interactions between the adaptive and innate immune systems. Technologies are developed to revolutionize genetic analysis and providing new strategies for elucidating the genetic mechanisms that influence immune responsiveness and autoimmunity.