ALXN » Topics » The Immune System

This excerpt taken from the ALXN 10-K filed Feb 23, 2007.

The Immune System

The human immune system defends the body from attack or invasion by infectious agents or pathogens. This is accomplished through a complex system of proteins and cells, primarily complement proteins, antibodies and white blood cells, each with a specialized function. Under normal circumstances, complement proteins, together with antibodies and white blood cells, act to protect the body by removing:

 

   

harmful micro-organisms;

 

   

cells containing foreign proteins known as antigens; and

 

   

disease-causing combinations of antigens and antibodies known as immune complexes.

When activated by stimuli, the immune system triggers a series of enzymatic and biochemical reactions called the complement cascade that results in an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is one of the immune system’s weapons against foreign pathogens or otherwise diseased tissue. However, under certain circumstances, the complement cascade may be activated inappropriately to direct an inflammatory response at healthy tissue, which may result in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Hematologic, autoimmune, or inflammatory diseases in which the complement cascade is activated include:

 

   

PNH;

 

   

transplantation;

 

   

Myasthenia Gravis;

 

   

autoimmune hemolytic anemias;

 

   

Guillain-Barre syndrome;

 

   

rheumatoid arthritis;

 

   

autoimmune kidney disease;

 

   

lupus;

 

   

inflammatory skin and muscle disorders;

 

   

multiple sclerosis;

 

   

antiphospholipid syndrome; and

 

   

asthma

 

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Table of Contents
This excerpt taken from the ALXN 10-K filed Oct 11, 2005.

The Immune System

 

The human immune system defends the body from attack or invasion by infectious agents or pathogens. This is accomplished through a complex system of proteins and cells, primarily complement proteins, antibodies and white blood cells, each with a specialized function. Under normal circumstances, complement proteins, together with antibodies and white blood cells, act to protect the body by removing:

 

    harmful micro-organisms;

 

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Table of Contents
    cells containing foreign proteins known as antigens; and

 

    disease-causing combinations of antigens and antibodies known as immune complexes.

 

When activated by stimuli, the immune system triggers a series of enzymatic and biochemical reactions called the complement cascade that results in an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is one of the immune system’s weapons against foreign pathogens or otherwise diseased tissue. However, under certain circumstances, the complement cascade may be activated inappropriately to direct an inflammatory response at healthy tissue, which may result in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions.

 

Common heart diseases and procedures in which the complement cascade is activated include:

 

    cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, or CPB;

 

    acute myocardial infarction or heart attack;

 

    unstable angina or painful chest pains associated with an insufficient blood supply to the heart;

 

    angioplasty; and

 

    stroke and other peripheral vascular or blood circulatory diseases.

 

Hematologic, autoimmune, or inflammatory diseases in which the complement cascade is activated include:

 

    PNH;

 

    rheumatoid arthritis;

 

    autoimmune kidney disease;

 

    lupus;

 

    inflammatory bowel diseases;

 

    inflammatory skin and muscle disorders;

 

    multiple sclerosis;

 

    asthma; and

 

    transplantation.

 

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Table of Contents

EXCERPTS ON THIS PAGE:

10-K
Feb 23, 2007
10-K
Oct 11, 2005

"The Immune System" elsewhere:

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