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Chapter 1 : Introduction
The “-omics” revolution has begun. Since the publication of the previous edition of Manual of Molecular and Clinical Laboratory Immunology, there have been major technological advances that are facilitating the application of genomics, proteomics, and microbiomics to better understand human health and disease. These disciplines are truly complementary, as genomics is directly linked to proteomics, and these new technologies are providing an improved understanding of the functional consequences related to alterations in the genome that lead to changes in the protein products of genes. The major advancements in next-generation sequencing have made characterization of the human microbiome a reality. Major efforts in microbiomics currently are focused on evaluation of the human bacterial community in health and disease. These three disciplines find common ground in the field of immunology, in which the genome provides the triggering instructions for protein products that are critically important for immune function and host defense. Alterations in the genetic code are now known to contribute to an ever-growing list of defects in immune function that result in susceptibility to microbial disease. In addition, altered immune function leading to inflammatory disease will be further clarified with these powerful new tools. Early lessons in the study of the human microbiota have revealed that commensal bacteria interact directly with the immune system to aid and model immunity. They also provide advantage to the host in settings of health and contribute to pathogenesis in circumstances of disease. The future of clinical immunology at a diagnostic and therapeutic level increasingly will rely on these techniques and further advances that will evolve more and more rapidly.