Objective: Modern immunology has been extremely successful in elucidating many features of the immune system, but not in stemming pandemics of non-infectious, immune-related disease associated with industrialized populations. These pandemics involve a broad range of allergic, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases, potentially including neuroinflammatory-associated disorders. It is the purpose of this review to outline the literature pointing toward the causes and potential treatments of these problems.
Conclusions: A wide range of evidence from the fields of clinical medicine, biomedical research, evolutionary biology, anthropology, epidemiology, immunology, and ecology point to the conclusion that pandemics of non-infectious, immune-related conditions arise from consequences of industrialization. Primary among these consequences is the loss of helminths from the ecosystem of the human body, the 'human biome'. In this view, helminths comprise a 'keystone species' of the human biome, and their loss is profoundly felt as pandemics of non-infectious, immune-related disease. Fortunately, evidence indicates that the consequences of industrialization that cause immune disease, such as helminth depletion, can be effectively avoided. Using this approach, it is expected that further pandemics of immune disease may be prevented, although it remains to be established whether prophylaxis rather than treatment of disease is required for some disorders. Thus, it is predicted that those who will succeed in curing and preventing immune-related disease will focus on addressing 'evolutionary mismatches' rather than simply on the molecular and genetic underpinnings of immunological disorders.