June 23, 2013
The Moo Vaccine
Many different vaccines and anti-venoms come from the very animals that attack us. We are able to use their venom or bacteria and introduce it into our bodies in small doses. This allows our bodies slowly create antibodies that allow us to fight off diseases like hepatitis, the flu, or maybe even one day HIV. Now, what would you say if we could have cow antibodies in you? This may possibly be the new wave of vaccinations.
You have to be asking yourself now, what makes these cow antibodies so special? Well, it’s actually how these antibodies evolve and attack viruses. Knob-coating ends of B-cells are very prone to point mutations that allow cytosine to attach and detach radically from the ends of chains. This allows for new antibody strands to be created, allowing these strands to attach to antigens easier. This allows for antibodies to attach and kill viruses quicker and easier. As you may guess, a human’s antibodies are unable to do this at the rate that cow antibodies are.
One of the other amazing things is the cow antibody’s ability fight off infection. Studies in how antibodies function suggest that the section called CDR H3 plays an important part in how antibodies attack bacteria and viruses within the body. It is also suggested that elongated segments of this piece of the antibody may improve the functionality of these antibodies and improve the body’s ability to prevent infection. As reported in a study in Nature, Ian A. Wilson, Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at The Scripps Research Institute, as these lengths of segments are doubled, the efficiency of these antibodies are greatly increased and are very effective at limiting the effects of many of the strains of HIV.
Now, the idea of injecting cow antibodies may seem simple, but it isn’t. Research is being done right now only by injecting cow antibodies and seeing how these antibodies react. Scientists at Scripps are heading this research and hope to have new applications for these new antibodies by using the cow’s evolutionary and disease fighting attributes.
As researchers look into this new form of antibody that seems to be very unique to the cow, they are continuing to a great amount of research into how these antibodies are created naturally. If researchers are able to manipulate this process within other organisms, they may be able to replicate the process within humans. Although human testing is nowhere within sight, research is very promising and could greatly help the human antibody evolve and grow.
As medical world begins to worry as super viruses are emerging from the many different antibiotics that people are taking to fight off infections, this new research may provide some uplifting news. As we enter this new era, we need to find more effective ways of fighting diseases and cure those with life threatening illnesses. This may be a great stepping-stone in helping the human body become stronger and provide new areas of study as we continue to search for possible avenues to take to become more familiar with human body and how it reacts with the world around us.
Image Credit: Smider lab at The Scripps Research Institute and Denise Rich