There might soon be a flu vaccine you’ll need to take once in your entire life, and it will be made from llama blood.
At the beginning of each winter you have one of two choices, either to take a flu vaccine and avoid getting sick or to not take a shot and hope for the best. The reason you need a new flu shot each year is because viruses change and you’ll need new antibodies to fight them
Scientists are now claiming that they have found the ultimate antibodies to fight the flu in llama blood, a new study published in the journal Science reports.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) November 1, 2018
According to the paper, the smaller antibodies found in llama blood are a better defense against the influenza virus than the larger antibodies made in the human body.
Inside your body, white blood cells known as B lymphocytes make the antibodies that attack the flu virus by attaching to outside protein. Your body will recognize and target these antibodies, but if the outer protein has changed since last season the antibodies won’t stick.
A vaccine works by introducing the new virus strain to your body, which can then train and create new B lymphocytes that can stick to the new virus. This is why you need a new shot each year, because viruses mutate and become stronger and harder to find.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) November 6, 2018
However, the antibodies in llama blood work quite differently. Since they are much smaller, the antibodies can sneak into the core of the virus and stick to the very core of the virus itself.
If scientists are able to recreate similar antibodies that can be introduced to human blood, it will be a one-time vaccine that could help you beat influenza year after year.