The body's immune system comprises a very large number of different elements that carry out defined roles which influence each other, as well as their immediate environment, in a highly complex system of interactions. In order to understand, and even predict, the way the immune system works, Weizmann Institute mathematicians and immunologists developed several mathematical models that describe the action of a number of the immune system's components. In several cases the mathematicians created new concepts and developed new ways of looking at the action of the immune system. These concepts and perceptions influenced the immunologists' previously accepted ways of thinking. One experiment confirmed a prediction by a mathematical model, even though the prediction was not in accordance with a "common sense" view of immunology.
This research is likely to lead to the development of mathematical tools for biomedical and immunological research, as well as help in the development of drugs which affect the immune system, such as antiallergenic drugs, or treatments for autoimmune diseases (in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues).