The global immunogenomics approach stands on three foundations: (i) the revolutionary expansion of genome knowledge that is now available in giant computer databanks; (ii) robust nanotechnology such as microarray chips and similar tools that allow real-time measurement of gene variants and gene expression; and (iii) the availability of improved techniques in immune bioinformatics (‘immunomics’) that could generate data-mining tools for efficient interpretation of otherwise unmanageable biological information.
Given the complexity of the immune system network and the multidimensionality in clinical situations, such as tumour–host interactions, autoimmune and allergic disfunctions, the comprehension of immunology should benefit greatly from highthroughput DNA array analysis, which can portray the molecular kinetics of an immune response on a genome-wide scale. This will accelerate the accumulation of knowledge and ultimately catalyse the development of new hypotheses in cell biology. Although in its infancy, the implementation of DNA array technology in basic and clinical immunology studies has already provided investigators with novel data and intriguing hypotheses concerning the cascade of molecular events that leads to an effective immune response in diseased tissue.
Recent trends in immunology focus on immunological databases, antigen processing and presentation, immunogenomics, host–pathogen interactions and mathematical modelling of the immune system. Immunogenomics represents one of the first stages in the systems biology era in immunology. Computational analysis is already becoming an essential element of immunology research, particularly in the management and analysis of immunological data.
On the basis of the individual chapters in this book, I foresee the emergence of immunomics not only as a collective endeavour by researchers to decipher the sequences of T cell receptors, immunoglobulins and other immune receptors, but also to functionally annotate the capacity of the immune system to interact with the whole array of self and non-self entities, including genome-to-genome interactions.
Budapest, June, 2005