An ancient arms race with microorganisms has shaped our immune system

At a recent symposium on the evolution of infectious diseases, University of California, San Diego (Ucsd), pathologist Nissi Varki noted that humans suffer from a long list of deadly diseases, including typhoid fever, Cholera, Mumps, whooping cough and gonorrhea. that don't affect apes and most other mammals. All these pathogens follow the same well-traveled path to penetrate our cells: manipulate sugar molecules called sialic acids. Hundreds of millions of these sugars cover the outer surface of every cell in the human body, and sialic acids in humans are different from those of apes.

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