Dr N.C. Eastmond nce at
Mon Jan 13 08:23:06 EST 1997

: However, most (non-biochemically oriented) undergraduate 
: students see study of the pathway itself as smoke-and-mirrors.  Being more 
: practical, they prefer to focus on the PURPOSE AND OUTCOME of the 
: complement system.  

Of course thay do and rightly so. But to understand the purpose and outcome of
the cascade will tell you nothing about intervention in that process. Suppose
I said to a student that the complement cascade is an element of the vascular
response to injury and that it is initiated by activation of Hageman factor
resulting in clot dissolution and kinin activation. Now if I ask that student
what would happen if you could disrupt the gene for C3, what would he say?
Better still, I could ask himn how you might get activation of C3 in the 
absence of active C4. Now that latter question is actually very important,
but the student would not have a clue. He would HAVE to understand the

: As was implied by Ms. Bridges, immunodeficiency 
: disorders are excellent tools with which we can emphasize the significance of 
: many components of the immune system.  (Incidentally, in animals at least, 
: hereditary absence of individual complement components seldom poses a serious 
: clinical problem unless the missing component is C3.)

Yes, I agree with your final point, but to understand the full significance
of C3 and the fact that it forma a major amplification step, you have to know
that pathways. You have to understand the cascade process.

: >Easily the best way to understand complement is to see a diagram of the 
: >classical pathway in a book.

: On the contrary--easily the best way to turn a confused student OFF is to 
: simply refer him/her to a diagram of a biochemical pathway in a book.

Come off it! You would never take a confused student and present him with 
a pathway. I never said that you would. In such a case, you would outline
the initiation of the cascade, it's significance, it's outcome and then
explain how the cascade works. 

: Well, Dr. Eastmond, in the U.S., "RN" does stand for "registered nurse" 
: (which, of course, you already knew).  

No I didn't. I guessed it.

: Why was it necessary to be rude to Ms. 
: Bridges?  After all, the discipline of immunology is not reserved for 
: "doctors".

Well, considering the 8 or so emails I got saying that it was an example of 
refreshing humour, I think you stand alone as taking life and Usenet too

Nigel C. Eastmond, nce at
Dept. Pharmacology, University of Liverpool. 
Save the Earth - eat Jupiter.

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