Researchers out of UC Irvine, working with researchers at the Japanese University of Shizuoka have discovered a means of turning a type of plastic into artificial antibodies, Popular Science reported yesterday. The process involves taking a microscopic amount of a particular plastic with inherent anti-pathogenic properties and molding them into the shapes you see above, imprinted with the shape of the foreign body they’re meant to attack. Set them loose in a body and they have been shown, in lab mice, to significantly amplify a body’s natural foreign-body-fighting ability.
The experiments they’ve run involve using the active ingredient in bee toxin, melittin, in doses fatal to something as small as a mouse – those little rodents that received a dose of the artificial antibodies had a greater success rate than their unfortunate counterparts, indicating to researchers that the plastics are effective at augmenting an immune system. The next step would be tailoring these pseudo-anti-bodies to different pathogens, allergens, toxins, and the like, to effectively create a boost to the immune systems of people suffering from a wide range of infections, from the common cold to, well theoretically, HIV.
I personally have some hangups on this tech. Yes we’re talking about nanoparticles smaller than the width of a human hair, but there’s got to be a threshold. Pump enough of this stuff in someone, whether it’s every time they get a cold or during a hospital stay to ward off the typical ward infections, there’s a great possibility of a pile up. And real antibodies die and get reabsorbed by the body – what happens to these things, when plastics can take millennia to degrade – couldn’t they get absorbed into the body and potentially mutate the person into developing plastic powers, turning him invulnerable to all things except, like high heat?
Okay, I’ve convinced myself. Sign me up for human trials.