This table illustrates the striking decrease in the incidence of selected infectious diseases for which effective vaccines have been developed.

Data from Orenstein WA, AR Hinman, KJ Bart, and SC Hadler. Immunization. In Mandell GL, JE Bennett, and R Dolin (eds). Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases,

4th ed. Churchill Livingstone, New York, 1995, and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 58:1458-1469, 2010.

Since the 1960s, there has been a remarkable transformation in our understanding of the immune system and its functions. Advances in cell culture techniques (including monoclonal antibody production), immuno-chemistry, recombinant DNA methodology, and x-ray crystallography and the creation of genetically altered animals (especially transgenic and knockout mice) have changed immunology from a largely descriptive science into one in which diverse immune phenomena can be explained in structural and biochemical terms. In this chapter, we outline the general features of immune responses and introduce the concepts that form the cornerstones of modern immunology and that recur throughout this book.

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