Posted on 04 April 2011.
In 1984, Dr. Niels Jerne won the Nobel Prize for the founding of immune network theory. However, an enigma arose in the early 1980’s concerning IJ, which is the central regulating unit of the immune system in the context of network theory. This is to say, with regard to the immune system, IJ is the center of “self”.
Immunologists had mapped IJ to a specific site in the genome, but they soon found that the gene was not there. This came to be known as the IJ paradox. This problem regarding IJ baffled immunologists at the time, to the extent that they threw out the baby with the bathwater. In other words, they walked away from the theory because of the confusion around IJ which, as a central component of the system, is crucial for the theory to work. The vast majority of immunologists from then onward chose to shift their focus toward the details of the system, as opposed to developing this framework for understanding the system as a whole.
In contrast, Network Immunology’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Geoffrey Hoffmann, was captivated by this fundamental riddle, and turned his focus towards resolving IJ. In 1994 he published a solution to the IJ riddle in a peer reviewed journal, but by then almost everyone in the field had moved away from network theory. Hoffmann continued to develop immune network theory, and in 2008, he and Earnest Leung, discovered a phenomenon called “Restriction of V-V interactions in serum IgG”, which led to further theoretical progress. Three applications of the recently extended theory have since emerged from a single principle of the system that Hoffmann and his colleagues call “extended second symmetry”.
These applications include a novel HIV vaccine, that Network Immunology expects will be effective against multiple strains of HIV, an organ transplant facilitation technology, and a preventive and treatment for the various autoimmune disorders, including diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
For further scientific information, feel free to read the introduction and contents section of Dr. Hoffmann’s book on immune network theory.