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Nano Virus In Human

With the threat of a potential pandemic from the bird flu, scientists are working feverishly towards finding a vaccine to protect the general public. However, the challenges of creating such a vaccine are much more difficult than your everyday flu shot.

First, it is important to understand how vaccines work. Your body is under constant attack from bacteria, viruses, and other germs on a daily basis. Every time a disease-causing organism enters your body, your immune system springs into action. Special proteins, known as antibodies, are created to destroy the invader. Once these have been created, should the same invader ever attack the body again, the defenses are already in place to prevent infection. The body can quickly produce more antibodies as needed.

Vaccines help to trigger this response. Vaccines are usually created for infectious organisms that could have a serious, if even fatal, effect on the body should they attack in full strength. A vaccine generally contains a dead, weakened form, or derivative of the original germ. This triggers your body’s immune response, generating the antibodies. That way if you are ever exposed to the disease, the antibodies are already there and your body can fight them off. Sometimes multiple vaccinations or boosters are needed to keep your antibody status current.

The current flu shot that you receive each fall contains the most common strains of the virus that have been seen. Since viruses are constantly mutating and changing with time, each year’s vaccine is slightly different than the year before. You are in constant need to create new antibodies as new viruses are found.

The problem with creating such a vaccine for the bird flu is that the virus has not yet shown itself in the form that will cause the pandemic. Currently, the only way to catch the bird flu is from the birds themselves " either from directly handling sick or dead birds, or from handling objects that they have contaminated. The virus has not yet mutated to the point where it can jump from one human host to another. Once it does this, there will be no stopping it. However, until it does this, scientists are unsure as to what form the virus will take, and therefore have difficulty creating a vaccine to stop it.

Vaccines are currently created by “growing” them inside of chicken eggs. As you may imagine, this is a lengthy and time-consuming process. It can take months or longer to get a vaccine from the conception phase to an actual working product. In a pandemic situation, we may not have that kind of time " millions of people could have become infected and died before protection was found.

So now scientists are looking at other methods to create vaccines. One thing they are attempting to do is genetically engineer them. The DNA from the current bird flu virus is mixed with a regular cold virus, creating a weaker strain. Early trials on both animals and humans have suggested that this may be effective in protecting against the current vaccine. Because of this, those who have received the vaccine may have some limited protection against the new form that would cause the pandemic. If it works, a simple booster shot would be all that is necessary to administer once the new virus has been identified and adjustments to the vaccine made.

At this point in time, we are still vastly unprotected should a pandemic situation of the bird flu occur. It will definitely be necessary to continue basic sanitary options, and the need for other precautions such as quarantines may become necessary. Hopefully by the time that it becomes a serious health concern, scientists will have been able to come up with a cure or vaccine.