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KS4 Biology

Defence Against
Disease

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Contents

Defence Against Disease

Defence against microbes

Transmission

Attacking microbes

Why do humans fall ill?

Summary quiz
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How does the body defend itself from disease?

Imagine a country is invaded. If the army is


to defend that country, the best way is to
surround the enemy and keep it in one
place.

You can then concentrate all your efforts in


one place and your army is more powerful.

If the invading army quickly spreads, they


can attack more places at once and your
defence is thinned.

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How does the body defend itself from disease?

How do you stop an invading army from spreading out?

You stop it from reaching the transport networks.

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How does the body defend itself from disease?

If we consider the human body, the infection will


spread around the body if it reaches our transport system.

the blood stream

The body’s defence systems are trying to prevent


microbes access to the blood.

If they get into the blood, they can travel to every part of
the entire body!

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How do microbes enter the body?

eyes
ears
mouth
nose
skin
cuts
genitals

A number of these places where microbes can enter


the body are defended.

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Defence against microbes

Mouth

If microbes enter through the mouth (usually on food) they


will be swallowed and enter the stomach.

Within the stomach is hydrochloric acid, which is highly


concentrated and will kill them.

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Defence against microbes

Nose

Cells lining the trachea and bronchi have hair like folds in
their membrane. These are known as cilia and the cells are
termed ciliated. These cells also produce mucus, a sticky
liquid in which microbes can become stuck. The cilia then
waft the mucus (including the trapped microbes) towards the
mouth and nose where they are either swallowed or
coughed up.

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Defence against microbes

Skin
thick layer of skin

blood capillary

Microbes have to penetrate the layer of skin that covers


the entire surface of our body. Once through this, they can
then reach the blood system.

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Defence against microbes

Cuts
When you cut the skin, the body will bleed because the
blood vessels are ruptured. This leaves the blood system
exposed to the air. Microbes could then get into the blood.

To limit this problem, the body can


quickly heal wounds by firstly clotting
the blood and secondly forming a
scab over the wound to shield the
blood from the air.

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Defence against microbes
Once the scab has formed, the body repairs the damaged tissue
underneath and finally fresh skin tissue is formed.
If the cut is very deep, a scar will remain after the cut has healed.
cut
exposed
blood vessel

microbes cannot
scab has gain entry
formed over
new
the wound
tissue
being
formed

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???

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Different defence mechanisms

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Contents

Defence Against Disease

Defence against microbes

Transmission

Attacking microbes

Why do humans fall ill?

Summary quiz
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Spreading microbes
One easy way to defend the body against illness is by
keeping it clean and hygienic.

This is because microbes can spread very quickly in


unhygienic conditions.

The spreading of microbes is known as transmission.

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Methods of transmission

Transmission can occur in the following ways:

Droplet transmission

If an infected person sneezes or coughs, millions of


microbes are released into the air.

These microbes could then infect somebody else.

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Methods of transmission

Transmission in water

Microbes can feed off the pollution within water.

If water is not cleaned, the microbes can reproduce and


enter the body when the water is drunk.

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Methods of transmission

Transmission by vectors

A vector is an animal that carries the microbe from one


place to another.
Vectors can range from houseflies to pets. It is important
to be careful about the amount of contact you have with
vectors.

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Methods of transmission
Transmission by contact
Many microbes can be exchanged from one
person to another within bodily fluids e.g.
blood and semen.
This is how many microbes responsible for
sexually transmitted diseases are spread
from person to person.
The less hygienic people are, the greater the
chance of infection. Microbes will also
reproduce rapidly in unhygienic conditions.
This is the main reason why public places
such as restaurants have to abide by strict
hygiene regulations.

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Transmission of microbes

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Contents

Defence Against Disease

Defence against microbes

Transmission

Attacking microbes

Why do humans fall ill?

Summary quiz
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White blood cells

If viruses and bacteria do get into the body, it is


extremely likely that they will enter the blood stream.

If this happens, the previous defence systems are


useless and so the body brings in its next line of
defence…

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Methods of attacking microbes

As we saw when we covered the blood system, white blood


cells are found in blood. They have a nucleus, which can
vary in shape from one sort of white blood cell to the next.

They have 3 main methods of attacking microbes.

1. Producing antitoxins

Remember that microbes can cause an infected person to


feel ill by releasing toxins (poisons). The first way white
blood cells defend the body is by releasing antitoxins. These
chemicals are designed to neutralise the effects of the toxins
and render them harmless.

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Methods of attacking microbes

white
bacterium blood cell

antitoxins
toxins

Antitoxin links to the toxin and neutralises its effect.


The toxin is now harmless. This happens on a large scale
and reduces the effects of the infection.

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Methods of attacking microbes

2. Ingesting Microbes
Some white blood cells actually ingest (eat) the microbes
and then break them down once they are inside the cell.
The microbe is destroyed by powerful digestive enzymes,
which are released within the cytoplasm of the white blood
cell.
white microbe
blood cell

The white blood cell


surrounds the microbe.

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Methods of attacking microbes

Digestive enzymes attack


the ingested microbe and
begin to break it down.

The microbe is destroyed.


The chemicals that are
released from the digested
microbe are used in other
parts of the cell.

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Methods of attacking microbes

3. Releasing antibodies

As well as releasing
antitoxins, the white
blood cell can
release another
chemical known as an
antibody. Antibodies - you can
think of them as target
specific bombs.

Their shape is important


because it fits exactly onto
a site on the microbe.

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Methods of attacking microbes

The antibody will only work if it is connected to this


specially shaped site. This design means that the
antibody does not harm normal body cells because
they do not carry the attachment site.

These are the areas where


the antibody will attach.

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Methods of attacking microbes
The antibody attaches to the specific site on the
microbe, which leads to its destruction.
attachment site antibody microbe

microbe is
destroyed

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Engulfing microbes - what’s the order?

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Engulfing microbes - what happens?

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Matching microbes and antibodies

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Contents

Defence Against Disease

Defence against microbes

Transmission

Attacking microbes

Why do humans fall ill?

Summary quiz
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Why do humans fall ill?

If white blood cells can produce antibodies against


microbes, why do humans fall ill at all?

Well, there are 3 problems…

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Why do humans fall ill?
1) The first is that different microbes require different
antibodies. This is due to the attachment sites on the
microbes being different shapes.
A microbe with these attachment sites …
will not be effected by
these antibodies.

The body must be able to produce a range of antibodies


against an enormous number of different microbes.
If it can’t produce the right antibody, the infected organism
will become ill.

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Why do humans fall ill?

2) Microbes are constantly changing and becoming


resistant to old antibodies.

The microbe has the ability to change its shape and


therefore the body may not recognise them. If this
happens, the microbe will release toxins until it is
recognised and an attack can be mounted.

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Why do humans fall ill?

3) When an organism becomes infected, it takes a


certain amount of time to mount an effective defensive
response.

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Antibodies and antitoxins

The microbes will start


At first, the microbe
reproducing willAs
rapidly.
enter
theythedo,
body
theyand release
produce
toxins.
more toxins. The white
blood cell number is
low because the body microbe toxins white antibody/
microbe toxins white antibody/
number blood antitoxin
was caught off guard. number blood
cells
antitoxin
cells

This is the point where the levels of toxin in the body will
cause the infected organism to feel ill.
There are not enough antibodies /antitoxins to overpower
the microbes.

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Antibodies and antitoxins

Slowly
The bodythe starts
number of white
replicating
blood cells
its white increases
blood to such
cells and in
adoing
level so,
thatstarts
the concentration
making
of antibodies/antitoxins
large amounts of is
high enough to overpower
antibodies/antitoxins.
the microbes. microbe toxins white antibody/
microbe
number toxins white
blood antibody/
antitoxin
The illness is at its peak number blood
cells antitoxin
The
and person
there isbegins
a battletoraging
feel cells
better.
in the body.

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Antibodies and antitoxins

Not only does the body fight off the disease; it also readies
itself for another infection from the same disease by
storing high levels of that specific antibody/antitoxin.
In other words, if that specific microbe infects the same
organism, there is no need to spend time replicating the
specific white blood cells in order to make the relevant
antibody. They are already made and so they attack the
microbe immediately.

This process of preparation for re-infection is known as


gaining natural immunity.

This why humans tend to only suffer from certain


diseases once in their lifetimes.

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Constant attack

Those diseases that keep re-infecting and causing


illness are usually caused by microbes that keep
changing their structures.

The body does not recognise the altered form of the


microbe and its ready-made antibodies are useless.

Once again we see how remarkable the human body is.


Countless microbes are constantly bombarding it:
microscopic disease causing organisms with the ability to
hide, fight, replicate and adapt.

All this happens without any conscious effort on our parts!

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Disease defence - what’s the order?

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Contents

Defence Against Disease

Defence against microbes

Transmission

Attacking microbes

Why do humans fall ill?

Summary quiz
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Defence against disease quiz

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