Scientific Sessions

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Session 1: Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology

Immunology is the study of the immune system. The immune system is how all animals, including humans, protect themselves against diseases. The study of diseases caused by disorders of the immune system is clinical immunology. The division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology at Medanta is a medical super-speciality to deal with arthritis, and other connective tissue disorders or autoimmune disorders. It is broadly perceived for magnificence in the fundamental and clinical research and diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. The impeccable combination of doctors and latest technology at Medanta makes sure that the disease is treated from the root cause.

Session 2: Auto Immunity and Auto Immune Diseases

Autoimmunity is the system of immune responses of an organism against its own healthy cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an "autoimmune disease". An autoimmune disease develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, decides your healthy cells are foreign. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy cells. An autoimmune disorder may result in the destruction of body tissue, abnormal growth of an organ, Changes in organ function. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. Areas often affected by autoimmune disorders include Blood vessels, Connective tissues, Endocrine glands such as the thyroid or pancreas, Joints Muscles, Red blood cells, Skin It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function. There are as many as 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Many of them have similar symptoms, which makes them very difficult to diagnose. It’s also possible to have more than one at the same time. Common autoimmune disorders include Addison's disease, Dermatomyositis, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis, Pernicious anemia, Reactive arthritis. Autoimmune diseases usually fluctuate between periods of remission (little or no symptoms) and flare-ups (worsening symptoms). Currently, treatment for autoimmune diseases focuses on relieving symptoms because there is no curative therapy.

Session 3: Pathogenesis

Pathogenesis describes the process by which an infection leads to disease. Cells of the immune system recognize and abolish pathogenic organisms and derived toxins. Immunity is provided by cells of the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system. Pathogenesis includes microbial infection, inflammation, malignancy and tissue breakdown

Session 4: Viral Immunology

Viruses are strongly immunogenic and produce 2 types of immune responses; humoral and cellular. T and B cells do not generally recognize the same epitopes present on the same virus. B cells see the free unaltered proteins in their native 3-D conformation whereas T cells usually see the Ag in a denatured form in conjunction with MHC molecules. The characteristics of the immune reaction to the same virus may differ in different individuals depending on their genetic constitutions.

Session 5: Immune Responses to vaccines

An immune response is triggered when the immune system is alerted that something foreign has entered the body. Triggers include the release of chemicals by damaged cells and inflammation, and changes in blood supply to an area of damage which attracts white blood cells. Vaccination utilises this secondary response by exposing the body to the antigens of a particular pathogen and activates the immune system without causing disease. The initial response to a vaccine is similar to that of the primary response upon first exposure to a pathogen, slow and limited. Subsequent doses of the vaccine act to boost this response resulting in the production of long-lived antibodies and memory cells, as it would naturally following subsequent infections. The aim of vaccines is to prime the body, so that when an individual is exposed to the disease-causing organism, their immune system is able to respond rapidly and at a high activity level, thereby destroying the pathogen before it causes disease and reduces the risk of spread to other people.

Session 6: Nutritional Immunology

Nutritional immunology is an emerging discipline that evolved with the study of the detrimental effect of malnutrition on the immune system. The clinical and public health importance of nutritional immunology is also receiving attention. Immune system dysfunctions that result from malnutrition are, in fact, Nutritionally Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (NAIDS). NAIDS afflicts millions of people in the Third World, as well as thousands in modern centers, i.e., patients with cachexia secondary to serious disease, neoplasia or trauma. The human immune system functions to protect the body against foreign pathogens and thereby preventing infection and disease. Optimal functioning of the immune system, both innate and adaptive immunity, is strongly influenced by an individual’s nutritional status, with malnutrition being the most common cause of immunodeficiency in the world. Nutrient deficiencies result in immunosuppression and dysregulation of the immune response including impairment of phagocyte function and cytokine production, as well as adversely affecting aspects of humoral and cell-mediated immunity. Such alterations in immune function and the resulting inflammation are not only associated with infection, but also with the development of chronic diseases including cancer, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, disorders of the endocrine system and cardiovascular disease.

Session 7: Haematopoiesis and Immune System Development

Haematopoiesis is the synthesis and development of Blood cells. Occurs during embryonic development and throughout adulthood to produce and replenish the blood system. Cellular blood components are derived from haematopoietic stem cells that reside mainly in the bone marrow, a major site of adult haematopoiesis. The blood system contains more than 10 different blood cell types with various functions: Leukocytes represent many specialized cell types involved in innate and acquired immunity. Erythrocytes provide O2 and CO2 transport, whereas megakaryocytes generate platelets for blood clotting and wound healing. Immune System Development: Our immune system defends people against germs and microorganisms. The immune system consists of lymphoid organs that can be divided into the primary and secondary immune systems as well as the myeloid and lymphoid cells, these arise via haematopoiesis. The primary lymphoid organs are the bone marrow and thymus. These are the sites at which haematopoiesis occurs and immature lymphocytes grow, develop, and differentiate. The secondary, or peripheral, lymphoid organs primarily consist of the spleen and lymph nodes and play roles in antigen presentation and adaptive immune response initiation.

Session 8: Vaccines against Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are responsible for approximately 25% of global mortality, especially in children aged younger than 5 years. Much of the burden of infectious diseases could be alleviated if appropriate mechanisms could be put in place to ensure access for all children to basic vaccines, regardless of geographical location or economic status. In addition, new safe and effective vaccines should be developed for a variety of infections against which no effective preventive intervention measure is either available or practical. The public, private, and philanthropic sectors need to join forces to ensure that these new or improved vaccines are fully developed and become accessible to the populations in need as quickly as possible

Session 9: Pediatric Vaccination

Vaccines not only help keep your child healthy, they help all children by stamping out serious childhood disorders. Vaccine Immunology had an enormous impact on improving the health of children. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases by Childhood Vaccines like Chicken pox Vaccines etc. Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children, and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly – especially in infants and young children. Over 80% of the world's children are now being immunized against the polio vaccines, and the annual number of cases has been cut from 400,000 in 1980 to 90,000 in the mid-1990s. If the year 2000 goal of eradicating polio is achieved, the United States will be able to save the $270 million a year that is currently spent on polio vaccination. The savings for Western European countries will amount to about $200 million a year.

Session 10: Veterinary Vaccines

The major goals of veterinary vaccines are to improve the health and welfare of companion animals, increase production of livestock in a cost-effective manner, and prevent animal-to-human transmission from both domestic animals and wildlife. Vaccination for the animals diverse aims have led to different approaches to the development of veterinary vaccines from crude but effective whole-pathogen preparations to molecularly defined subunit vaccines, genetically engineered organisms or chimeras, vectored antigen formulations, and naked DNA injections. successful veterinary vaccines have been produced against viral immunology, bacterial, protozoa, and multicellular pathogens, which in many ways have led the field in the application and adaptation of novel technologies, These veterinary vaccines have had, and continue to have, a major impact not only on animal health and production but also on human health through increasing safe food supplies and preventing animal-to-human transmission of infectious diseases. The continued interaction between animals and human researchers and health professionals will be of major importance for adapting new technologies, providing animal models of disease, and confronting new and emerging infectious diseases


Session 11: Cancer Immunotherapeutics

Immunotherapy also called biologic therapy is a type of cancer treatment designed to boost the body's natural defences to fight the cancer. It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Immunotherapy is treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. This can be done in a couple of ways:1)Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells2)Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins. Some types of immunotherapy are also sometimes called biologic therapy or biotherapy.

In the last few decades immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. Newer types of immune treatments are now being studied, and they’ll impact how we treat cancer in the future. Immunotherapy includes treatments that work in different ways. Some boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically. Immunotherapy works better for some types of cancer than for others. It’s used by itself for some of these cancers, but for others it seems to work better when used with other types of treatment.Many different types of immunotherapy are used to treat cancer. They include: Monoclonal antibodies, Adoptive cell transfer, Cytokines & Treatment Vaccines BCG etc.

Session 12: Challenges facing AIDS Vaccine Development

Vaccines have been our best weapon against the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, including smallpox, polio, measles, and yellow fever. An effective preventive AIDS vaccine would teach the body how to prevent HIV infection. Vaccines are the most powerful public health tools available and an AIDS vaccine would play a powerful role in ensuring the end to the AIDS epidemic. An HIV vaccine does not yet exist, but efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, have been underway for many years.

Session 13: HPV Vaccines

Vaccines and Cancer Vaccines Against infectious diseases represent a grave threat to animal and human populations in terms of their impact on global health, agriculture and the economy. Vaccines developed for emerging infections in animals can protect animal health and prevent transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. The vaccine technology market is expected to reach $57,885.4 million by 2019 from $33,140.6 million in 2014, at a CAGR of 11.8%. Major factors driving growth of vaccine technology market include rising prevalence of diseases, increasing government initiatives for expanding immunization across the globe, increasing company investments in vaccine development, and rising initiatives by non-government organizations for vaccinations.

Session 14: Recombinant Vaccines

Recombinant vector vaccines are experimental vaccines similar to DNA vaccines, but they use an attenuated virus or bacterium to introduce microbial DNA to cells of the body. “Vector” refers to the virus or bacterium used as the carrier. In nature, viruses latch on to cells and inject their genetic material into them. In the lab, scientists have taken advantage of this process. They have figured out how to take the roomy genomes of certain harmless or attenuated viruses and insert portions of the genetic material from other microbes into them. The carrier viruses then ferry that microbial DNA to cells. Recombinant Vector Vaccines closely mimic a natural infection and therefore do a good job of stimulating the immune system.

Session 15: Immunotoxicology

Immunotoxicology is the study of immune dysfunction. Immunotoxicology is due to exposure of an organism to foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not normally naturally produced by or expected to be present within that organism. Immune dysfunction may result in the reduction of the activity of the immune system. Immunotoxic substances, such as chemicals, pesticides, or drugs, can have adverse effects on the functioning of the immune system. The known effects include increased susceptibility to infections or tumors as a result of humoral and/or cellular immunity being compromised (immunosuppression), autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, and development of allergies.

Session 16: Diabetes Immunology

Immunology is the study of the immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body from foreign cells such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Immune system cells called T and B lymphocytes identify and destroy these invaders. The lymphocytes usually recognize and ignore the body’s own tissue (a condition called immunological self-tolerance), but certain autoimmune disorders trigger a malfunction in the immune response causing an attack on the body’s own cells due to a loss of immune tolerance. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. This attack begins years before type 1 diabetes becomes evident, so by the time someone is diagnosed, extensive damage has already been done and the ability to produce insulin is lost.

Session 17: Veterinary Immunology and Immunepathology

All living organisms are continuously exposed to substances that are capable of causing them harm. Most organisms protect themselves against such substances in more than one way --- with physical barriers, for example, or with chemicals that repel or kill invaders. Animals with backbones, called vertebrates, have these types of general protective mechanisms, but they also have a more advanced protective system called the immune system. The immune system is a complex network of organs containing cells that recognize foreign substances in the body and destroy them. It protects vertebrates against pathogens, or infectious agents, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other parasites. The human immune system is the most complex .Although there are many potentially harmful pathogens, no pathogen can invade or attack all organisms because a pathogen's ability to cause harm requires a susceptible victim, and not all organisms are susceptible to the same pathogens. For instance, the virus that causes AIDS in humans does not infect animals such as dogs, cats, and mice. Similarly, humans are not susceptible to the viruses that cause canine distemper, feline leukemia, and mouse pox.

Session 18: Neuroimmunology

Neuroimmunology, the study of the interaction between our central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and our immune system. Neuroimmunology contributes to development of new pharmacological treatments for several neurological conditions. The immune system and the nervous system maintain extensive communication, including 'hardwiring' of sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves to lymphoid organs. Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, vasoactive intestinal peptide, substance P and histamine modulate immune activity. Neuroendocrine hormones such as corticotrophin-releasing factor, leptin and alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone regulate cytokine balance. The immune system modulates brain activity, including body temperature, sleep and feeding behaviour. Molecules such as the major histocompatibility complex not only direct T cells to immunogenic molecules held in its cleft but also modulate development of neuronal connections. Neurobiologists and immunologists are exploring common ideas like the synapse to understand properties such as memory that are shared in these two systems.

Session 19: Antibodies- Engineering & Therapeutics

Antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, are large Y-shaped proteins which function to identify and help remove foreign antigens or targets such as viruses and bacteria. Antibodies are produced by specialized white blood cells called B lymphocytes (or B cells). When an antigen binds to the B-cell surface, it stimulates the B cell to divide and mature into a group of identical cells called a clone. The mature B cells, called plasma cells, secrete millions of antibodies into the bloodstream and lymphatic system. Every different antibody recognizes a specific foreign antigen. This is because the two tips of its “Y” are specific to each antigen, allowing different antibodies to bind to different foreign antigens.Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to the presence of an antigen. Antigens are large molecules, usually proteins, on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some non-living substances such as toxins, chemicals, and foreign particles. Any substance capable of triggering an immune response is called an antigen. The antibody recognizes a unique molecule of the harmful agent, called an antigen, via the variable region.

Antibody engineering has become a well-developed discipline, encompassing discovery methods, production strategies, and modification techniques that have brought forth clinically investigated and marketed therapeutics. The realization of the long-standing goal of production of fully human monoclonal antibodies has focused intensive research on the clinical employment of this potent drug category.

Session 20: Animal Models and Clinical Trials

The development of human vaccines continues to rely on the use of animals for research. Regulatory authorities require novel vaccine candidates to undergo preclinical assessment in animal models before being permitted to enter the clinical phase in human subjects. Substantial progress has been made in recent years in reducing and replacing the number of animals used for preclinical vaccine research through the use of bioinformatics and computational biology to design new vaccine candidates. However, the ultimate goal of a new vaccine is to instruct the immune system to elicit an effective immune response against the pathogen of interest, and no alternatives to live animal use currently exist for evaluation of this response.

Session 21: Immunodermatology

Immununodermatology is the study and treatment of the Immune-Mediated Skin Diseases such as psoriasis. Systemic Lupus Erythematous (SLE), Bullous Pemphigoid (BP) and Pemphigus Vulgaris (PV) are some type of autoimmune diseases, in which our body immune system mistakenly acts against our own healthy cells or tissue or parts of the body. Immunodermatology studies skin as an organ of immunity in health and disease. New therapies in development for the immunomodulation of common immunological skin diseases include biologicals aimed at neutralizing TNF-alfa and chemokine receptor inhibitors.  Several areas have special attention, such as photo-immunology effects of UV light on skin defense, inflammatory diseases such as hidradenitis suppurativa, allergic contact dermatitis and atopic eczema, presumably autoimmune skin diseases such as vitiligo and psoriasis, and finally the immunology of microbial skin diseases such as retrovirus infections and leprosy.

Session 22: Microbial Immunology

The number of mechanisms that have evolved in microbes to subvert the immune response seems limitless. Tubercle bacilli have found a novel way to coat themselves with the C3 complement protein and invade macrophages by interactions with complement receptors. The Research Group Microbial Immunology investigates the interactions between Candida and the host, aiming at a better understanding of the interactions that lead to pathophysiological alterations. We furthermore strive to understand which process in pathogenesis lead to the development of clinical symptoms and lethal disease. To address these questions, the study focuses on microbiological and immunological methods as well as molecular biology in combination with various infection models including the better understanding of the processes during infection.

Session 23: Transplantation Immunology

Transplantation is an act of transferring cells, tissues, or organ from one site to other. Graft is implanted cell, tissue or organ. Development of the field of organ and tissue transplantation has accelerated remarkably since the human major histocompatibility complex (mhc) was discovered in 1967. Matching of donor and recipient for mhc antigens has been shown to have a significant positive effect on graft acceptance. The roles of the different components of the immune system involved in the tolerance or rejection of grafts and in graft-versus-host disease have been clarified. These components include: antibodies, antigen presenting cells, helper and cytotoxic t cell subsets, immune cell surface molecules, signaling mechanisms and cytokines that they release. The development of pharmacologic and biological agents that interfere with the alloimmune response and graft rejection has had a crucial role in the success of organ transplantation. Combinations of these agents work synergistically, leading to lower doses of immunosuppressive drugs and reduced toxicity. Significant numbers of successful solid organ transplants include those of the kidneys, liver, heart and lung.

Session 24: Vaccines against Drugs

Drug addiction is a serious problem worldwide. One therapy being investigated is vaccines against drugs of abuse. The antibodies elicited against the drug can take up the drug and prevent it from reaching the reward centres in the brain. Few such vaccines have entered clinical trials, but research is going on apace. Many studies are very promising and more clinical trials should be coming out in the near future.

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