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    • CommentAuthorPooka
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.21)
    hmm..this could help me. and ...wow. :P
  1.  (631.22)
    My question: how do her other organs react to this?

    That's a good point - surely she'd have her own naturally occurring organs attacked by the new immune system?

    Given the mistake made in the article (pneumo/haemolysis) I'm starting to wonder if it is really true. While there is a large amount of corroborating media I think I'll wait until they write it up in a medical journal before hanging out the bunting.

    It's not like the media has ever fucked up medical reporting before...
  2.  (631.23)
    Reynolds. it may have to do with the part in the article where they say her immune system was "ALMOST completely replaced"... but it sounds kinda sloppy, you know, the immune system replacing everything but leaving the pretty little organs in peace...
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.24)
    @Reynolds: I haven''t read it but Harvey says its been written up in the NEJM.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.25)
    Posted by Harvey: (631.8)
    "The case was originally published in the New England Journal in Medicine,"

    Granted, I know next to nothing about the medical community, but that seems fairly official. Not to say it couldn't still be a hoax, of course.

    What if the new immune system had somehow 'assimilated' the rest of the original body into its, for lack of a better word, jurisdiction? Because, otherwise, wouldn't every organ in the girl's body come directly under attack?
  3.  (631.26)
    What if the new immune system had somehow 'assimilated' the rest of the original body into its, for lack of a better word, jurisdiction? Because, otherwise, wouldn't every organ in the girl's body come directly under attack?


    I guess that's possible, but in that case, when other transplants are made, why doesn't the immune system "assimilate" the new organ? Which is not what happened in this case, here the whole fucking system just swapped...
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.27)
    Maybe the immune system can somehow identify genetic similarities between all the organs and, this is where it gets scary, deduce from that evidence that they all belong to the same organism, and therefore don't need to be purged?
  4.  (631.28)
    Maybe the immune system can somehow identify genetic similarities between all the organs and, this is where it gets scary, deduce from that evidence that they all belong to the same organism, and therefore don't need to be purged?


    Yes, I can just imagine the immune system with a magnifying glass wondering if it was the butler who did it...
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.29)
    OK, so it makes no sense and has no medical precedent to back it up. But SOMETHING weird happened in that girl's body, why not go the whole nine yards when making the hypothesis.
  5.  (631.30)
    OK, so it makes no sense and has no medical precedent to back it up. But SOMETHING weird happened in that girl's body, why not go the whole nine yards when making the hypothesis.


    Well, in this case I think all we can do is wait to see what the fuck happened. It might have been an unique anomaly that only happened in that specific organism and can't be replicated, which would be unfortunate.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.31)
    Indeed. I'll be sure to watch this story as closely as possible.
  6.  (631.32)
    the NEJM is a pretty respected journal...

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/358/4/369
    is the article. gonna read it now...
    •  
      CommentAuthorhyim
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.33)
    @spiraltwist
    yes. /rolleyes.
    •  
      CommentAuthorAriana
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.34)
    Hah! Henri, put those eyes back in your head, you got called on your call, just fair. ;P
    •  
      CommentAuthorhyim
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.35)
    bleh of cuuiiiirrsse i meant mature red blood cells, lalalala the absence of adjective implies the general case rather than the specific blah blah meh.
    anyhoo my call had more zazz, so there, /tongue out, sweet aria.
    • CommentAuthorMark W
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.36)
    This sounds wierdly like something from one of the role-playing games I play. In it, someone in the early 2030s or so was discovered to have something about his cells that allow tissue from him to be transplanted with almost no chance of rejection. companies from then on use cell cultures from him to grow high priced replacement organs for people who can afford them. Now that doesnt seem to be the exact case here, but it is eerily similar.
  7.  (631.37)
    the end of all disease? find the one person who has immunity beyond measure, clone his liver and ta-daa! everyone can be fixed.

    one day...
    That couldn't actually happen.

    Everything's got a trade-off -- evolution builds a specimen with a stronger immune system, but the energy that goes into creating it is energy the body could've used for something else. Like to grow big and strong, or just to survive childhood.

    They did studies where they took flies, and they took a fluke that parasitizes them. Usually the evolution of the two happens as an arms race -- the fly evolves a better defense against the parasite, and a random mutation of the parasite gives it the ability to defeat that defense. They rigged the fight, giving the flies a chance to evolve but always using the same base, non-specified parasites every time. The flies went from having a 10% survival rate against the parasite to eventually having a 60% success rate -- and after that, they leveled off. It was just too costly for their other bodily systems to keep building a better and better immune system to fight off one threat. The hyper=adapted flies were also smaller and slower than the flies they'd been derived from, didn't make as many offspring, and had a tougher time living to adulthood.

    And then there's the fact that evolution's always building a better invading organism. In the '50s they were on the verge of wiping out Malaria -- until a strain that was resistant to the initial drug evolved separately in Asia and in South America and spread all over the world.
    •  
      CommentAuthorhyim
    • CommentTimeJan 25th 2008
     (631.38)
    isn't the panacea included as a criteria for the singularity ? Not too learned on that last subject as it's kinda cuckoo from afar.
    • CommentAuthorHarvey
    • CommentTimeJan 28th 2008
     (631.39)
    Just a couple of further observations that might make a few things a bit clearer (or not..)

    Bone marrow transplantation followed by an organ from the same donor has been reported to result in a patient holding on to the organ without immune-suppressant therapy - the article in NEJM says that host reactive immune cells can get removed as they pass through the thymus in animals models of 'mixed cimerism' ie where cells of different gentic types are present. This may explain where the lack of reaction against the host organs arose. Also the kid had severe anaemia caused by haemolysis (Reynolds was right about this) which suggest an initial reaction between host and donor cells.

    The unanswered question is where did the stem cells come from and how did they populate the marrow? The initial cause of the liver failure was never identified, so who knows what might have been going on - there may even have been an auto-immune component.