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How does the immune system function?

The immune system is a complex, interactive mechanism within the body that protects  against disease by recognizing and destroying invading pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as tumor cells. This system has the ability to distinguish these foreign invaders from the body’s own normal healthy cells and tissues. Functional deficiency of the immune system can cause disease. Even a markedly below-normal functioning system can lead to life-threatening infections. In some cases, this state of immunodeficiency can be produced by use of drugs or by an infection, such as AIDS-‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’- caused by the retrovirus HIV.

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