American scientists recruited a curious ally in their efforts to develop a flu treatment: the flame.
The blood of this animal has been used to produce a new antibody therapy that has the potential to combat all types of influenza, including pandemics.
Flu is one of the most enabled diseases when it comes to changing shape and constantly mutates its appearance to evade our immune system, which explains why vaccines are not always effective and every winter a new injection is needed to prevent it.
That's why science is looking for a way to put an end to all types of flu, regardless of what the tension or what mutates.
And that's where the flame goes in, better known by her.
These animals, typical of the Andes, produce very small antibodies compared to ours.
The antibodies are the weapons of the immune system and bind to the proteins that excel from the surface of the virus.
Human antibodies tend to attack the tips of these proteins, but that is the part that influenza changes faster.
While flame antibodies use their advantageous size to snake deeper and attack the parts that the flu can not change.
A team from the Scripps Institute in California infected flames with various types of flu to trigger an immune response.
They have explored the blood of these auquénidos in search of the most powerful antibodies that can attack a wide variety of influenza strains.
The scientists finally chose four and then began to develop their own synthetic antibody that used elements of each.
The result was tested in mice given by lethal dose of influenza.
"It's very effective, there were 60 different types of viruses that were used in the challenge and only one was not neutralized and that is a virus that does not affect humans," said Professor Ian Wilson, one of the researchers, to the program. by BBC Science in Action.
"The goal here is to provide something that works from the station to the station and that also protects you from possible pandemics, if they appear," the scientist explained.
The work has been published in the scientific journal Science and is still at an early stage and the team wants to carry out more tests before beginning tests with humans.
The Holy Grail
The researchers used two different techniques when administering antibodies to animals.
The first thing was to inject them and the second, in a genetic therapy.
The genetic instructions to develop the antibody were packaged in a harmless virus, which was used to infect the noses of mice.
And the nose coating cells began to produce the anti-flu antibody.
An additional benefit of this is that it could work in the elderly.
The older the immune system works, the less the seasonal flu vaccine becomes less effective.
But this flame-based treatment does not need to train our immune system.
Professor Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham told the BBC: "Having a treatment that can work in a variety of different strains of the virus is something very longed for: it's the Holy Grail of the flu."
"There will be an appetite (for treatment), but it will depend on how well it works, how expensive it will be," he said.