Publication Type:Book Chapter
Source:Information Processing and Biological Systems, Springer, Volume 11, New York (2011)
We consider the human body and its environment as a well-orchestrated system of interacting swarms: swarms of cells, swarms of messenger molecules, swarms of bacteria, and swarms of viruses. Utilizing swarm intelligence techniques, we present three virtual simulations and experiments to explore key aspects of the human immune system. Immune system cells and related entities (viruses, bacteria, cytokines) are represented as virtual agents inside 3-dimensional, decentralized compartments that represent primary and secondary lymphoid organs as well as vascular and lymphatic vessels. Specific immune system responses emerge as by-products from collective interactions among the involved simulated `agents' and their environment. We demonstrate simulation results for clonal selection in combination with primary and secondary collective responses after viral infection. We also model, simulate, and visualize key response patterns encountered during bacterial infection. As a third model we consider the complement system, for which we present initial simulation results. We consider these in-silico experiments and their associated modeling environments as an essential step towards hierarchical whole-body simulations of the immune system, both for educational and research purposes.