New take on comparative immunology: Relevance to immunotherapy

Ena Wang, Adriana Albini, David F. Stroncek, Francesco M. Marincola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is becoming increasingly recognized that experimental animal models, while useful to address monothematic biological questions, bear unpredictable relevance to human disease. Several reasons have been proposed. However, the uncontrollable nature of human genetics and the heterogeneity of disease that can only be replicated with difficulty experimentally play a leading role. Comparative immunology is a term that generally refers to the analysis of shared or diverging facets of immunology among species; these comparisons are carried out according to the principle that evolutionarily conserved themes outline biologic functions universally relevant for survival. We propose that a similar strategy could be applied to searching for themes shared by distinct immune pathologies within our own species. Identification of common patterns may outline pathways necessary for a particular determinism to occur, such as tissue-specific rejection or tolerance. This approach is founded on the unproven but sensible presumption that nature does not require an infinite plethora of redundant mechanisms to reach its purposes. Thus, immune pathologies must follow, at least in part, common means that determine their onset and maintenance. Commonalities among diseases can, in turn, be segregated from disease-specific patterns uncovering essential mechanisms that may represent universal targets for immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Chronic infection
  • Comparative immunology
  • Tumor immunology
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Oncology
  • Immunology


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