Imagine a world where annual checkups include not just temperature and blood pressure readings, but also a complete review of your immune system. Doing so would give doctors a good sense of your current health, including a history of your past infections, diseases and vaccinations. It could also provide a sneak peek at diseases already lurking, symptom-free, in your body. It makes today’s approach to preventive medicine seem like too little, too late.

Visual portrait of a healthy immune system.
Visual portrait of a healthy immune system.

“Nearly every disease is linked to the immune system,” says Jian Han, MD, PhD, faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha. Medicine is finally on the verge of exploiting that connection.

Han is spearheading a project to sequence, or analyze, the immune repertoires of 10,000 people, representing 100 different diseases. By compiling that information, researchers hope to create a dictionary that allows them to figure out which bit of an immune cell’s DNA matches up with which disease, and even which ones correlate with health.

Read the full story in Discover.

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