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The New View of Complement

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Science  31 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6098, pp. 1034-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6098.1034

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The complement system is one of our most important protections against pathogens, killing invaders before other immune defenses have a chance to mobilize. Now increasing evidence shows that complement components perform functions outside the immune system. Recent work suggests that complement guides development of the brain and skeleton and spurs damaged organs to repair themselves. But complement can also do us harm. Researchers have implicated the system in more than 30 illnesses, including ones that scientists didn't consider immune system diseases. Already, two drugs have been approved for complement-related diseases, and several other compounds targeting proteins in the cascade are in clinical trials for a variety of conditions.

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