Harvill, who described his alternative viewpoint in the latest issue of mBio, said that some researchers have not yet accepted this broader approach to the immune system.
"Among immunologists or microbiologists this is an alien concept," said Harvill. "It's not part of how we have historically looked at the immune system, but it's a useful viewpoint."
Other researchers who study plant and nonhuman biology are already starting to embrace the concept. For example, plant biologists are beginning to recognize that viruses can help plants resist drought and heat.
"Within nonhuman immunology, this is not an alien concept because they have seen many examples of beneficial relationships between the host and its microbial commensals," Harvill said. Harvill said adopting this new perspective could be the first step toward new medical treatments.
"This new viewpoint suggests new experiments and results will published," said Harvill. "And, hopefully, the concept becomes more and more mainstream as supporting evidence accumulates."
|Contact: Matthew Swayne|