By Jennifer R. Jamison

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Extra resources for Man Meets Microbes. An Introduction to Medical Microbiology

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The Selective theory suggests that each individual has within his genetic computor information on how to produce antibodies with specific binding sites for all possible antigens. This hypothesis claims that the macrophage processed antigen acts at the level of DNA and there­ fore the genetic code. It is suggested that repressed DNA is derepressed. Once functional this DNA directs protein synthesis by production of a mRNA template which produces antibodies specifically active against the stimulating antigen.

Exposure of the individual to a specific organism usually results in production of antibodies. Antibodies so produced recognise and react with that organism. Serology thus involves the use of laboratory techniques to detect the presence and quantity of antibody in the patient's blood. Examples of laboratory techniques used include: (a) The precipitin test (i) Antibody and colloidal antigen may be mixed in a test tube and allowed to form a lattice work. This forms at the optimal ratio. (ii) Antibody and colloidal antigen may also be pipetted separately into agar wells and allowed to diffuse through the agar towards each other.

In cases of latent infection it is often not possible to isolate the organism. Latent infection follows a period during which the patient has had apparent cure following a clinical or sub-clinical infection. During this latent period the organism appears to have been eliminated by the host's defences. Infection by this organism can again become overt should some stimulus alter the immune status of the host. Herpes hominis or Herpes type I causes gingivo-stomatitis, a primary overt clinical infection.

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