Biology- Fighting Disease

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  • Fighting Disease
    • Past and Future
      • Semmelweis
        • Saw that huge numbers of women were dying from puerperal fever
        • He thought that this was being caused by doctors spreading disease on their unwashed hands
        • He told doctors to wash their hands in an antiseptic solution
          • By doing this the death rate dropped from 12% to 2%
        • He didn't know that the bacteria were spreading the disease and being killed when washed, so he couldn't say why it worked.
          • Because of this, it was dropped once he'd left and the death rate went back up
      • Increasing Resistance
        • Bacteria can evolve and become antibiotic resistant
          • This is because of overuse
        • This means when someone is infected they can't get rid of it as quickly
          • This can lead to it being spread on to other people.
          • This is putting pressure on big companies to develop new, effective drugs
      • New Dangers
        • Bacteria could mutate
          • This could cause a new resistant strain or one we don't already know about
            • This could cause an epidemic if it can't be treated.
        • Viruses mutate often
          • This makes it hard to develop a vaccine as they change there DNA which leads to different antigens
          • This would cause a problem if a highly infectious and deadly virus evolved
            • It would be difficult to control as many people travel everyday
              • This could lead to a pandemic, and could kill billions!
    • Pathogens
      • Main two types: Bacteria & Viruses
        • Bacteria are very small living cells
          • They damage your cells
          • They produce toxins
        • Virus are not cells and are much smaller
          • They replicate themselves using the nucleus of a cell and then burst free
            • The damage to the cells is what makes you feel ill.
        • The Body's Defence system
          • Skin! Main covering protection
          • Platelets, clot wounds to stop pathogens getting in
          • White Blood cells
            • Consume/ engulf them. NOT EAT!
            • Produce antibodies
              • Specific to a pathogen
              • Lock on and kill invading cells
              • Happens rapidly
            • Produce Antitoxins; counteract toxin
    • Drugs
      • Painkillers only relieve the symptoms
      • Antibiotics kill the bacteria, stopping the infection
      • Can't use antibiotics on a viral infection as the virus is inside the cell, where the bacteria can't get to.
        • Also, a drug to kill the virus would also have to kill the human cell which would cause more pain and problems
      • Bacteria can become resistant.
        • They mutate, some become resistant, some survive and breed, this spread the infection.
          • The process repeats until a bacteria strand is resistant to all drugs.
          • This is an example of natural selection.
        • This can be stopped by not overusing drugs.
    • Vaccinations
      • Contain dead or weakened pathogen
        • This allows the body to fight the disease with out the symptoms
        • The correct antibodies are produced
      • By doing this, if the person is infected again, it means the white blood cell will reconnise the pathogen and be able to produce the correct antibodies
        • This means the disease is fought off faster and so the symptoms aren't experianced.


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