American scientists have 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 fight against all types of influenza, including pandemics.
Influenza is one of the most exciting diseases when it comes to changing shape and constantly shifting its appearance to avoid our immune system, which explains why vaccines are not always effective and every winter a new injection is needed to prevent .
That's why science hunts a way to end all kinds of flu, no matter what stalk comes from or how much it moves.
And there comes the flame, the best known for wool.
These animals, typical of today, produce incredibly small antibodies compared to ours.
Antibodies are the weapons of the immune system and attach to the proteins that come out of the surface of the virus.
Human antibodies tend to attack the peaks of those proteins, but this is the part the flu is changing most quickly.
While flame antibodies use their advantageous size to sink deeper and attack the parts that flu can not change.
A team at the Scripps Institute in California has infected multiple influenza flares to cause an immune response.
They then explored the blood of these auquénidos in search of the strongest antibodies that could attack a wide variety of strains of influenza.
Scientists eventually chose four and then began to develop their own synthetic antibody that used the elements of each.
The result was tested in mice given lethal doses of influenza.
"It is very effective, there were 60 different types of viruses that were used in the challenge and only one was not neutralized and it is a virus that does not affect people," said Professor Ian Wilson, one of the researchers. and BBC Science in Action.
"The goal here is to provide something that works from the station to the station and also protects you from any pandemic, if any," explains the scientist.
The work was published in the science journal Science and is still at a very early stage, and the team wants to do more tests before starting to study with people.
The Holy Grail
Researchers used two different techniques when administering antibodies to animals.
The first was to inject them and the second into a gene therapy.
The genetic instructions for the development of the antibody were packaged in a harmless virus, which was then used to infect the nose of the mice.
And the cells in the mucosa of the nose began to produce the anti-influenza antibody.
An additional advantage is that it could work for the elderly.
The older the immune system works, the more seasonal influenza vaccine becomes less effective.
But this flame-based treatment does not have to prepare our immune system.
Professor Jonathan Ball, of the University of Nottingham, told BBC: "The treatment that can work on a variety of different strains of the virus is something very desirable – it's the 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.