Immune In a Nutshell

Immune Book

Like millions of other people I’m a huge fan of Kurzgesagt. I’ve “supported” them over the years by buying their posters and other doodads, so of course I immediately pre-ordered the new book by their founder Philipp Dettmer. For $22 it seemed like a good purchase. After reading it for the past month I can whole heartedly recommend this book as a way to learn about how the immune system works.

I have one precaution for other fans of Kurzgesagt: It is not like their other info-graphic heavy products. This is a book with words. Lots of words. There are occasional graphics and they are very nice but it is a text book for people that actually want to learn about how immune systems function. You can tell by the references.

Here’s a typical passage from Immune:

But Helper T Cells do not just put the Macrophages into Killer mode. Once this battle frenzy is triggered, they are necessary to keep them alive. Helper T Cells monitor the battlefield, and as long as they sense danger, they are stimulated and know fighting is still necessary. Macrophages that fight in battle-frenzy mode are on a timer and will kill themselves after it runs out. This is another one of these safety mechanisms to make sure the immune system is limited to a degree. Helper T Cells can reset this Macrophage suicide timer over and over again. So as long as danger is present, they tell your exhausted warriors to carry on by restimulating them over and over again. Until they decide to stop doing that. Once Helper T Cells notice that the immune system is clearly winning the fight they stop and so, bit by bit, more and more spent soldiers end their lives. Helper T Cells do not just crank up the violence, they also determine when enough is enough and everybody should calm down.

Good stuff. I’m enjoying the entire book.