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  • Micro-organisms
    • Our bodies come under attack from a range of microorganisms. We defend ourselves from these attacks using antibodies to destroy the pathogens.
      • Vaccinations and aseptic techniques have been developed to help reduce infection. We can now manufacture antibodies for a variety of other uses, such as fighting cancer and pregnancy testing.
      • our lymphocytes remember pathogens - and if we are exposed to the pathogen again, the lymphocytes respond by making antibodies much more quickly. This means that we don’t usually catch the disease a second time, and are now immune to it.
    • There are three main types of microorganism: bacteria, viruses and fungi. Individually, they are too small to see without using a microscope, although groups (or colonies) of them can often be seen with the naked eye
    • Bacteria grow by a process of replicating themselves. This is called binary fission. When bacteria possess the nutrients and appropriate conditions for growth, they are able to replicate very quickly indeed.
      • This increase is called exponential growth and can lead to the rapid development of an infection.
    • Bacteria grow using a medium, such as agar gel or milk, from which they obtain nutrients.
    • Edward Jenner was an English scientist who lived in the 18th century. He discovered the first vaccine, which was for the smallpox virus.
      • This disease was widespread in the 18th century and killed many people. Those who were infected but survived were often left badly scarred.
      • Jenner noticed that milkmaids who had caught the cowpox virus did not normally then catch smallpox. Cowpox was very similar to smallpox but less contagious.
        • He collected pus from the cowpox blisters on a milkmaid’s hands and purposefully infected a small boy. The boy was taken ill for a short while, but was then resistant to any subsequent infections of the cowpox and smallpox viruses.
          • He tested this by infecting the boy with smallpox. No illness occurred. Jenner was therefore the first person to vaccinate someone against infection.
    • Louis Pasteur was a French scientist who lived in the 19th century. He discovered the first vaccine for rabies - but is more famously remembered for aseptic technique and pasteurisation


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