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Immune Suppressants: Freedom at a price…

Posted Apr 21 2010 5:00am


The word 'freedom' is used very lightly these days by all and sundry and can be compared to the way people use the word 'sorry'. In my book, people who understand the meaning of these words use them wisely, and at a time when it is truly appropriate.

What is freedom? Do you actually believe that you live in a free world? Who decides whether you are free or not?

In my opinion, nothing can be further from the truth. Suppression is all around us existing in both subtle and open forms.

Take for example, censorship! Right from your mom telling you that it isn't socially acceptable to use 'bad language'  to the government that lies through its teeth to keep people 'disinformed', it exists everywhere.

People tell you not to see this, read that, watch this and hear that because it is BAD for you, and for a good part of our lives, we tend to buy into stuff like that until that phase popularly known as 'the age of reason' comes along sooner and in the case of some people, much much later.

The reality of suppression (as opposed to freedom) is that it exists in every breath and moment, and thus, being truly free is only an ideal that most of us can pretend to live for, and perhaps in understanding the truth in that, nihilism becomes our last resort.

Yes it even exists in medicine in the form of immune suppressants, although in this case, they work towards a positive purpose in order to 'free' someone from a particular medical condition.

Immune Suppressants and reasons for use

By definition, immune suppressants "reduce the activation and efficacy of the immune system".

They are used in the case of autoimmune diseases for which the immune system is responsible for causing the condition in the first place as well as when organ transplants are carried thus making it vulnerable to other infectious diseases. They are also used to treat non-auto immune diseases such as long term allergic asthma.

Types of immunosuppressive drugs

Immune suppressants exist in two forms such as immunosuppressive drugs that are produced externally and introduced to the patient while the other form are substances (such as testosterone) that are produced by the body.

Further, they are divided into five groups such as:

1) Glucocorticoids – Used to suppress allergic, anti-inflammatory, auto-immune diseases.

2) Cytostatics – Used for the treatment of malignant diseases.

3) Antibodies – Used as a quick and strong form of immunotherapy in order to prevent acute rejection reactions.

4) Drugs acting on immunophilins – Ciclosporin,Tacrolimus, Voclosporin and Sirolimus are some of the most commonly used drugs as calcineurin inhibitors.

Any patient who is on these drugs must be very careful not to take any other medication (unless prescribed by a physician) as there are chances of reactions between the immunosuppressant drug and the medication.

In Closing

In the cure of the aforementioned illnesses, side effects due to the vulnerability of the immune system are possible such as the spread of malignant cells (cancer-prone) and other infectious diseases. No matter what your definition of freedom, it sure does come at a price alright.

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