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Fact or fiction: An illness free society

Fact or fiction: An illness free society
Fact or fiction: An illness free society
David McNew/Getty Images

Anyone who peruses the news lately has seen stories on "super bugs," antibiotic fighting diseases and other illnesses right out of the most gruesome science fiction novels. According to a feature published today, March 25, 2014, in the Los Angeles Times, those stories may soon be only footnotes in history.

There is a new procedure being studied which may very well rid humans of most illnesses and if it is proven factual, it will only be a shot away. It is, in a very real way, an artificial immune system, or to be more precise, a genetically re-engineered immune system protein called properdin. Now before you brush this aside as "wishful thinking," you must take into consideration this is a major study internationally in progress. The researchers were led by immunologists at the University of Leicester, England, but hailed from universities in Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Toledo, Ohio.

According to the aforementioned article, this is how it works: "The recombinant properdin appears to act on a little-understood component of the immune system called the complement system, in which blood-borne proteins such as properdin respond to the presence of pathogens by dispatching phagocytes to neutralize the microbes. The genetically engineered version of the protein used in these experiments enhanced the activity of the phagocytes, resulting in what appeared to be a turbocharged immune response to the bacteria that cause meningitis and pneumonia."

In laymen's term, your immune system is normally Popeye. Somewhat in decent shape and can fight most enemies. With a shot of properdin, your immune system becomes Popeye after he eats a few cans of spinach and is now ready to "kick some heavy duty butt!"

The story concludes with: "In test-tube studies leading to the current research, purified forms of properdin also looked as if it would enhance an immune response to other microbial invaders, such as E. coli and the gonorrhea bacterium. That suggests the strategy of enhancing the immune system might someday take up the slack where antibiotics fall short, losing their potency as invading pathogens evolve."

True, this might not be the fountain of youth, but it may be the garden hose of a longer life.