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How ostriches can cure us and their incredible immune system

 

With today’s wide, but often needles use of antibiotics, there is a growing number of resistant bacteria. These infections are a big problem in hospitals where patients often die from pneumonia caused by strains of resistant hospital bacteria, and not from their original disease. Additional, viruses are constantly mutating and are creating new strands that can cause fatal infections.

And then there are ostriches. Here is why they deserve to be mentioned, and even to get their own article:

 

 

Firstly, ostriches are birds with a lot of superlatives. They are the largest of the bird family, they have the longest legs, biggest eggs, biggest eyes (twice the size of human’s), and they are the fastest runners of all the birds. But what is (potentially) very significant to humans is that they have one of the best immune systems. Ostriches are amongst the oldest birds on the planet (they are 20 million years old), and they owe there survival to their ironclad immune system. After researchers in Japan discovered that ostriches can produce antibodies for H1N1 (also known as swine flu) interest in ostriches increased significantly. In Japan there is even a trend of using ostrich antibodies in soy sauce and body lotions.

 

 

What separates ostrich antibodies from mammalian antibodies is that they are resistant to stomach acid and can get to the intestines unharmed. This is very significant for intestinal bacterial infections as they can then replace antibiotics. It is very helpful that ostriches can give a huge amount of antibodies  – a female „infected“ with an inactive bacteria of interest (that kind of bacteria won’t cause the disease, but will stimulate the immune system, that, among other things, is the principle on which vaccines are based), will create the corresponding antibodies which she  transfers onto her eggs to protect the embryos; later these eggs are used to extract antibodies. Due to its size (1.5 kilograms), a single ostrich egg can give up to 2-4 grams of antibodies. The entire process is pretty cheap, prompting many companies to work on  “farming“  these antibodies for a wide array of viruses and bacteria.

 

 

It seems that Robi from Rogues and princesses was right all along when he suggested a ostrich farm.

 

 

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