Though it seems unlikely that millions of people could fall ill to a global pandemic, But, that’s exactly what scientists are concerned about.
Faced with 21st century threats like bioterrorism and global pandemics, Bill Gates warned an audience at the Munich Security Conference that it is in the interest of the public health to “build an arsenal of new weapons – vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.” Gates’ hopes are already in motion, as researchers and innovators are turning to technology to find the answers.
As rapidly evolving viruses continue to test the resilience of our body’s natural antibody supply, researchers are searching for a one-vaccine-cure-all. While progress is being made, there is not yet an absolute defense against the threat of a global crisis.
The latest in research has produced computational protein design. Computer modeling is being used to develop custom antiviral proteins, instead of expecting individual immune systems to produce the necessary antibody proteins to combat modern viruses.
These miracle proteins would work similarly to natural proteins in our bodies, by sticking to viruses and preventing their movement and eventual infection. But, unlike a vaccine, these new and specific treatments could be administered pre and post infection, to both treat and prevent viruses. The revolutionary methods of designing, constructing and supplying specific antiviral proteins to the body all contribute to the digitization of the immune system.
While researchers and scientist work to get FDA approval for the technology responsible for making computational proteins, the future of technology in medicine looks promising.
Photo by NIAID/Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Caitlin Phillips is a freelance writer spending her summer in Budapest, Hungary.