The first keynote presentation of this week's Keystone meeting on autoimmunity and transplantation tolerance ended in a rather surprising way -- the speaker was actually heckled during the question answer session for comparing autoimmunity to cancer. When the mechanisms that keep the immune system from attacking itself break down, diseases like diabetes type 1, lupus, and psoriasis can result. Many in the field have focused on how particular inherited mutations change the immunological landscape and looked for environmental triggers that ultimately initiate the disease. But Christopher Goodnow from Australian National University, one of the leaders in this field, thinks genetics trumps environmental signals in kicking off linkurl:autoimmunity.; He started his keynote talk by describing just how difficult it is to break natural tolerance to self-antigens. In most cases, he pointed out, this doesn't happen all at once - autoimmune diseases develop over many years. He gave the example of the...

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