Bat Immune Systems Could Strengthen Our Own

By Julia Newman ’19

black-flying-fox.jpg

Bats, including this flying fox, are constantly working against diseases.

Immunologist Dr. Baker, working at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, has recently discovered something about bats that can protect humans from multiple deadly diseases. Bats are known to be carriers of various diseases such as Ebola and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome.  However, unlike humans, the bats are not affected as carriers, prompting research into their immunological responses.

Studies have shown that bat immune systems work much differently than that of humans: while our immune systems work only in the presence of diseases, those of bats are constantly working to prevent infection. In fact, although bats have less interferons involved in immune responses than humans, their innate responses are much stronger than humans. If scientists like Dr. Baker can find to employ the techniques seen in bats in humans, they may be able to stop the widespread deaths caused by diseases worldwide.

 

References:

  1. Image retrieved from:  http://www.techtimes.com/articles/135755/20160223/immunity-of-bats-to-lethal-diseases-may-help-protect-people.htm
  2. Mathewson, Bat ‘super immunity’ could help protect people from diseases like Ebola. Nature World News (2015).
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