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Tick Spit Could Be Key to Treating Blood and Immune Disorders

tickWho would have thought saliva from ticks could be so beneficial? As crazy as it might sound, there’s actually scientific and practical reasoning behind this potential new discovery.

According to ABC News, researchers from Monash and Oxford University are publishing a joint study that will detail how the saliva from ticks could actually be the answer to a variety of human immune disorders. According to Associate Professor Hans Elmlund, co-author of the study, ticks release a certain protein in their saliva when they attach themselves to a human host in order to allow them to remain undetected by the body’s immune system.

“They need to do that to be able to bite and feed on their targets for prolonged periods of time,” Elmlund said. “These proteins that the ticks evolved, they can be used to inhibit a system called complement and this system can run amok in a number of diseased conditions including some life threatening blood disorders and some rare genetic kidney disorders.”

It’s unclear if ticks produce more saliva when they’re eating, like humans. One example of a disease that could benefit from this new study is called Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH). This life-threatening disease causes the body’s immune system to attack and kill its own blood cells.

“One of the really cool things of the discovery is how a therapeutic antibody, which is used in a clinic to treat a disease called PNH, also functions to target the same part of the immune system,” said Professor James Whisstock, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced cialis 20mg Molecular Imaging.

The researchers are hopeful that the new discovery will lead to price reductions in relating medical expenses. Currently, the cost of medication for PNH can cost $500,000 a year.

“I think that where this is going is to develop new and actually less expensive therapeutics to target a whole range of important immune-driven diseases,” Professor Whisstock said.

It could also lead to ultimately more effective treatment as these type of disorders can even become resistant to the medications currently available. Early stage clinical trials are already underway overseas.

The study will be published in the next edition of the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that upstate New York residents shouldn’t be concerned about the creatures. The most recent New York ClimAID study from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) showed that the uncommonly warm winter weather in the state has made it possible for ticks and other creepy crawlies to flourish.

Thankfully, New York’s medical professionals are prepared to deal with the pests, should they cause problems for unsuspecting residents.

“We haven’t seen anyone yet come in with a tick, but it’s right around the corner, so we’ve been warning people,” Dr. Raveen Saluja M.D., an internal medicine practitioner at Saratoga Family Physicians at Saratoga Hospital, told Saratoga Today. “During peak season, ticks are an everyday conversation in our office. But we’re already out in our shorts some days, so it’s already time to be careful.”