Course literature; discussion points

This years elective course in «Immunitet. Evolusjonære og pasientnære perspektiv», included also compulsory reading of Dan Davis book «The compatibility gene». The book deals with the MHC-gene complex (in humans the HLA-complex), the most polymophorphic gene locus in the human genom. It is critical for understanding immunity, and in particular the individual differences in immunity and immune function.

The students had four days to read the book, before they met with a tutor in smaller groups to discuss the content of the book. The list of questions discussed is listed here:

  • Why do we need MHC class I system? Only to make transplantologist life’s harder?
  • Why do some HLA variants give better outcome/protect against specific diseases?
  • Why are some HLA variants linked to certain autoimmune diseases?
  • What is «missing-self» hypothesis and how does it fit in the «HLA system»?
  • What is the cost versus benefits of maintaining the «HLA system» from a evolutionary perspective?
  • Why are some HLA variants more common in some regions?
  • Why did scientists not create a «fetal vaccine», with all the most common HLA variants, making us perfect organ acceptors?
  • Why is it that for some discoveries it will take many years before they become generally accepted within the scientist’s community?
  • Why did not everyone like the «smelly T-shirts» experiment?
  • What writing tricks do you know to make a popular science book fun to read?
  • Are there any differences in how the immune system reacts to blood transfusion, tissue transplantation and HSC transplantation?

Blogpage by Anne Spurkland, published 17th February 2018