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immune system disorder

any of various failures in the body's defense mechanisms against infectious organisms (see table). Disorders of immunity include immune deficiency diseases, such as AIDS, that arise because of a diminution of some aspect of the immune response. Other types of immune disorders, such as allergies and autoimmune disorders, are caused when the body develops an inappropriate response to a substance-either to a normally harmless foreign substance found in the environment, in the case of allergies, or to a component of the body, in the case of autoimmune diseases. Lymphocytes (white blood cells of the immune system) can become cancerous and give rise to tumours called leukemias, lymphomas, and myelomas

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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