The mechanisms of disease production by infectious agents are presently the focus of an unprecedented flowering of studies. The field has undoubtedly received impetus from the considerable advances recently made in the understanding of the structure, biochemistry, and biology of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other parasites. Another contributing factor is our improved knowledge of immune responses and other adaptive or constitutive mechanisms by which hosts react to infection. Furthermore, recombinant DNA technology, monoclonal antibodies, and other, newer methodologies have provided the technical tools for examining questions previously considered too complex to be successfully tackled. The most important incentive of all is probably the regenerated idea that infection might be the initiating event in many clinical entities presently classified as idiopathic or of uncertain origin.
Infectious pathogenesis research holds great promise. As more information is uncovered, it is becoming increasingly apparent that our present knowledge of the pathogenic potential of infectious agents is often limited to the most noticeable effects, which sometimes represent only the tip of the iceberg. For example, it is now well appreciated that pathologic processes caused by infectious agents may emerge clinically after an incubation of decades and may result from genetic, immunologic, and other indirect routes more than from the infecting agent in itself. Thus, there is a general expectation that continued investigation will lead to the isolation of new agents of infection, the identification of hitherto unsuspected etiologic correlations, and, eventually, more effective approaches to prevention and therapy.
Studies on the mechanisms of disease caused by infectious agents demand a breadth of understanding across many specialized areas, as well as much cooperation between clinicians and experimentalists. The series Infectious Agents and Pathogenesis is intended not only to document the state of the art in this fascinating and challenging field, but also to help lay bridges among diverse areas and people.
M. Bendinelli H. Friedman
Was this article helpful?