Illustration of Cellular immunity

1882 Cellular immunity

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Ilya Ilych (Élie) Metchnikoff immunology Illustration of Cellular immunity

Cellular immunity

Yet Ilya Ilych (Élie) Metchnikoff was able to prove his intuitive irrational preconceived belief in the Darwinian connection between cells in starfish larva and human white-blood cells. He claimed these “eating cells” or phagocytes were the basis of immunity and he had the last laugh on advocates of the humoral theory that immunity is a function of our blood fluids when his proof got him the Nobel.

Little animals

We love our little microbes and they love us swimming around in our guts and humorous fluids eating the tidbits we feed them little flecks like fish food of broken things that used to fly through the air and into our mouths looking out for other little animals on their Darwinian fishing trips. We love them unless they eat us in which case we don’t love them.

Probiotic joys

Our phagocytes love those yeasts and active cultures— if they don’t kill us. Sprinkle it on your cereal, bury it in the light of the full moon, and make oh boy cheese, yogurt, and tempeh.

Metchnikoff shared with Paul Ehrlich the 1908 Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on phagocytes. He also inspired research into the relationship between bacteria and good intestinal health, which eventually led to the worldwide marketing of probiotics.

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