GENETICALLY MODIFIED COWS COULD LEAD TO MERS VACCINE

An entire team of international researchers have used genetically modified cows to create antibodies to allegedly combat MERS which could mean that a vaccine might soon be possible. The research was published today in Science Translational Medicine.Though infected camels are thought to be the initial source of MERS, most animals, such as cows and mice, aren’t affected by the virus.

In earlier animal research studies (which many deem unnecessary and cruel) scientists have used cows to try and understand human immunity, so for this experiment researchers decided to tweak the cows’ genomes slightly so that they carry a human chromosome. That genetic code allegedly enabled the cows to create MERS-specific proteins called antibodies that “tag” potentially dangerous cells to be eliminated by the immune system. When the researchers exposed the cows to low doses of the MERS virus, their immune systems created antibodies tailored to the human form of the disease, allowing their bodies to launch a full immune response.

In a petri dish, the antibodies extracted from the cows’ blood attacked MERS cells. Then, mice that were genetically modified to be affected by MERS were protected from infection if they were given a dose of the antibodies before and after exposure to the virus.

Because these antibodies have not yet been tested in humans, the researchers can’t be sure that they will be effective at all, or that they won’t cause serious averse immune reaction in patients and injure countless people  The researchers hope to test them in humans in the near future and we can only imagine what kind of sci fi movie that will turn into.

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