During the project, I will be looking
into how infectious diseases have a huge impact on mortality rates, mainly (but
not limited to) in Low Income Countries. I will also be researching current and
future plans into irradiating infectious diseases and whether education could
be the key to this. I hope that by the end of this project, I can conclude and
support with evidence whether education could eventually eradicate infectious
disease. Infectious diseases are caused by virus’ or bacterium infiltrating the
body. A main focus of this project will be how this happens and how it can be
treated. This will link to whether education can help to prevent someone being
infected originally.

According to the World Health
Organization 1948, the term ‘health’ is defined as “A state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or
infirmity”. However this would leave me to wonder what a disease is defined to
be, as it is commonly thought that a disease would lead to a damaged physical
or mental being, which contradicts the World Health Organizations definition. The
word disease is frequently described as “(An) illness of people, animals, plants, caused by infection or
a failure of health rather than by
an accident” (Cambridge
dictionary 2017). Because of
this, I decided a good starting point for my project would be to look into what
an infection actually is and how this is linked to the spread of diseases.

Before the human body can become
infected, a pathogen must be able to colonise the host of a cell. This is often
one of the hardest things to do as the human body has natural defences to try
and prevent this from happening. This includes the outer skin which is tough,
waterproof and impenetrable.  The body
also has other natural defences such as lysozymes (digestive enzymes which
break down pathogens) which are found within the eyes. Other defences include;
mucus found in the nose; Cilia cells found in the throat and Hydrochloric Acid
found in the stomach. However, if the pathogen is able to infiltrate the body,
Phagocytosis begins to occur. Phagocytosis is the “Recognition
of pathogen? associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and
binding to Toll?like? Receptors (TLRs) in order to destroy
invaders” (British Medical Association). It is also a specific form of endocytosis.  During Phagocytosis, there are specific phagocytes
that carry out the process – such as macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic
cells.  Macrophages form from monocytes which
are produced from stem cells in the bone marrow. When monocytes are released
into the blood, they mature into macrophages. One of the other more specific
phagocytes (neutrophils) are also made in the bone marrow however once released
into the blood, they can only survive a few hours. Neutrophils are also able to
sense signals that the body has been infected and they’re often the first type
of phagocyte to reach the pathogen. Another type of phagocyte is a dendritic
cell. These are cells are found in epithelial tissues that are in direct
contact with the external environment (for example, Langerhans cells are found
in the skin) and also cells found in the inner lining of the nose, lungs,
stomach and intestines. Once activated, dendritic cells move from the lymph tissue to interact
with T-cells and B-cells to help with specific immune responses.

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Even
though specific phagocytes can carry out this process, all phagocytes follow
the same general process in an attempt to destroy pathogens (Phagocytosis). It
should be noted that Phagocytosis is a non-specific immune response. After the
pathogen is attracted to the phagocyte through chemical signals (Chemotaxis),
it is engulfed. Once engulfed, the lysosome fuses with the vesicle and releases
enzymes (lysins and hydrolytic enzymes) into the phagosome. Then the pathogen
is hydrolysed and digested and released as waste through exocytosis. On the
surface of the white blood cell, antigens will now be presented.

When
cells have been invaded by non-self material, a specific cellular response is initiated.
This is in the form of T-Cells which are produced within the thymus in the
heart. When a T-Cell divides through mitosis, it produces T-Helper cells and
T-Killer cells. A T-Helper cell produces a T-Memory cell which prevents against
future infection by initiating a secondary response; T-Helper cells also
release chemicals that activate B-Cells. T-Killer cells release perforin and
cytotoxins which destroys anything that displays pathogenic antigens. Perforin
makes a pore within the cell membrane of the viral cell and the cytotoxins then
go directly inside the cell and destroy the pathogen.

However,
it poses a challenge to the immune system when Phagocytosis can’t happen fast enough
which leads to the body becoming infected. A prime example of this is when a virus
enters the body and colonizes a host cell. In order to do this, it must first bind
to the surface of a host cell by binding to specific receptors on the surface. In
the case of the HIV virus, it was found to have CD4 proteins- a specific glycoprotein
that’s related to immune recognition found on T-Cells and macrophages. However this
virus also needs the presence of a co-receptor to fully colonize a host cell. HIV
needs a CCR5 protein to accomplish this. Macrophages within the body are only susceptible
to variants of the HIV virus that use the CCR5 protein as their primary entry. 

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