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Immune system computation and antigen-chip technology

Irun R. Cohen Department of Immunology Weizmann Institute 4pm Tuesday 20th Feb 2007 Room 2511, JCMB, King's Buildings

If we define computation as the transformation, according to defined rules, of input data into output data, then we should conclude that the immune system computes: the input to the immune system is the state of the body and the output of the immune system is the healing process (the inflammatory response) that maintains a healthy body. In this sense the immune system is a computation machine that transforms body-state data into immune-system data that, simultaneously, feeds back on the body to modify its state and restore body health. The difference between the physiologically regulated inflammatory response that keeps us healthy and the dysregulated or chronic inflammatory response that can make us ill lies in the dynamics and fidelity of the computations performed by the immune system - the cells and molecules that mediate inflammation, both healthy and noxious inflammation, are exactly the same. I shall describe our use of microarray technology and informatics to develop an antigen chip capable of detecting global patterns of autoantibodies binding to hundreds of self-molecules simultaneously. The patterns fashion diagnostic signatures for particular autoimmune diseases, for degenerative diseases and for cancer among others. The antigen chip microarray provides a novel and informative look at immune computation and its medical applications.

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