Guardians of Grace: The Science of Immunology

In 2020, a sudden outbreak, or global pandemic, struck, not only forcing many people to stay home and socially isolate, but also brutally killing many ordinary people. As the number of people infected with the virus climbs, the public wants to know, what are we going to do to fight the virus, antibiotics or magic drugs that need to be found quickly? But the answer from the medical community was surprising: complementary medicine that would ease the disease and help the human immune system, the workhorse of the war, defeat the virus. But is the human immune system really that strong?

The answer is yes, and it is surprisingly powerful, as evidenced not only by the various cases of patients brought back from the brink of death reported on the Internet, but also in "The Guardians of Grace." While each of us has something to say about the immune system, our opinions are often little more than scattered insights, life experiences, and unexplained biases. Journalist and author Matt Richter shows that the "seven inches" of the immune system can only be truly grasped by combining biology, immunology and the individual.

An Elegant Defense
Buy on Amazon

Compared with developments in physics, astronomy and chemistry, immunology is a relatively short newcomer. This is not only because immunology is a cross between biology and medicine, and is subject to the constraints of both, but mainly because the mysteries of the human body are so complex that there is often a big story behind seemingly ordinary physiological phenomena. Richter calls the immune system its "elegant guardian" in his immunology book, which takes readers through time and space to laboratories, hospitals and research institutes to witness the indelible nodes of immunology: the discovery of T and B cells, the creation of vaccines and antibiotics, and more.

Faced with the same disease, some people eventually survive, others unfortunately die. The immune system we inherited from our ancestors is clearly different from one another, and it is this characteristic that ensures our survival as a species. Our immune system does its best to fight off outsiders, such as viruses and bacteria, but ultimately it wants to balance things out, not kill them all, a point Richter makes especially hard. And an overactive immune system is bad for us, especially when it comes to a highly deceptive virus like HIV.

However, this book is not cold and popular science. Instead, it is unusual to include the author's own experience and several examples of flesh-and-blood life in which immunology is no longer a separate discipline, but one in which people like Jason, Linda, and Meredith place great expectations and hopes in it. So we see how the love of life drives people to endure untold suffering: endless chemotherapy and radiation treatments, countless drugs, side effects that blight their bodies and minds...

In fact, they are not the only ones, in our daily life, immunity is not completely absent. We see a lot of advertisements about the immune system, which claim that we lack immunity and need to take supplements or health supplements to boost it. But these are often lies, even hoaxes: For one thing, our immune system as a whole is exceptionally strong and doesn't need much help; Second, immunity is not always better. On the contrary, immunity also means the degree of risk. Once the immune system is exploited by the virus, the stronger the immunity, the more inclined the immune system designed to protect us will be to destroy us. Thirdly, the immune system needs to learn constantly. Excessive cleaning and hygiene of the environment is not conducive to protecting ourselves, which is probably something that many people do not think of and find difficult to accept.