The Unluckiest Man in the World?
An Examination of Immune System Function
Department of Biology
Utah Valley University
This directed case study examines the immune system by introducing students to the story of Mr. Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin patient.” Mr. Brown was the first human cured of HIV through a bone marrow transplant, which he endured after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This real-life case provides an excellent opportunity for students to examine the function of the adaptive and innate immune system as they answer questions regarding Mr. Brown’s infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and a diagnosis of AML. Students strengthen their understanding of adaptive immune cells and the function of MHCI and II molecules by exploring the virus’s effect on the patient’s immune system. They also build an understanding of the cells of the innate immune system by reviewing Mr. Brown’s complete blood count plus differential. This case is suitable for any course that contains an immunology section, although it may require modification of the virus life cycle components depending on the students’ microbiology background.
- Explain the role of MHCI, MHCII, cytotoxic T-cells, and helper T-cells in the adaptive immune response.
- Define the function of the cells involved with the innate and adaptive immunity.
- Explain how HIV infection leads to increased susceptibility to a variety of infectious diseases.
- Analyze a CBC with differential by identifying abnormalities compared to reference values.
- Interpret figures, graphs, and tables to answer specific questions.
KeywordsAdaptive immune system; innate immune system; complete blood count; CBC; HIV; acute myloid leukemia; AML; leukemia; cancer; immune system
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDirected, Discussion
Subject HeadingsMedicine (General) | Microbiology | Nursing | Physiology |
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