The arrival of flu season has sparked yet another year of flu hysteria. The CDC is warning people that death may come to those who pass on their flu shots.
But how good is the flu shot? We’ve been down this road a great many times. However, it turns out, that scientists are so desperate to conquer the flu and vastly improve flu shot results that they’ve resorted to using llama blood.
Researchers now use llama blood to create antibody therapies for the flu and potentially other illnesses.
The flu consistently morphs to avert the human immune system’s innate defenses or flu shots cocktail. Each year, researchers create a new flu shot hoping to “get it right.” But most often, such efforts render failures. This results in seemingly more people ending up with flu.
Researchers use the tiny antibodies created by llamas, typically known for their production of wool, to build up the therapies.
The immune system uses antibodies to fight bacteria that cause sickness. The antibodies bind to proteins on the surface of the virus.
A human’s antibodies defend, or attacks, those proteins.
The llama’s antibodies do a better job and attacking flu by getting deeper into the flu’s environment. In these crevices, according to researchers, the flu can’t morph.
So wait, how does such research work?
Glad you asked…
Scripps Institute in California infects llamas with flu. Because, of course.
You can find the research published in the journal Science.
Prof Ian Wilson, one of the researchers, told the BBC’s Science in Action: “It’s very effective, there were 60 different viruses that were used in the challenge and only one wasn’t neutralised and that’s a virus that doesn’t infect humans.
“The goal here is to provide something that would work from season to season, and also protect you from possible pandemics should they emerge.”
Prof Jonathan Ball, from the University of Nottingham, told the BBC: “Having a treatment that can work across a range of different strains of virus is highly sought after. It’s the Holy Grail of influenza.
“There will be an appetite, but it depends how well these things work, how easy it is to produce and also how costly it will be.”