Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Instant Immunity

PostedJanuary 22, 2012

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Anchor Lede: When you get a vaccination, it takes time for your body to make the antibodies that protect you from a threat. But now scientists are engineering instant immunity.

Randy Atkins: You’d still need a shot, but maybe just once in your life. Carlos Barbas, a Scripps Institute researcher, says his vaccine produces antibodies that find and attach to a certain chemical which can be engineered into a variety of oral drugs…allowing an antibody escort to their target.

Carlos Barbas: Once you’ve taken that pill, you ideally obtain this instant immunity to that pathogen or to that disease.

Randy Atkins: Barbas says the antibody-drug combo could seek out germs, cancers, even poisons…and that, once the attack is over, your body makes more antibodies to wait for a new medicine.

Carlos Barbas: Ideally you’re immune for life and have these universal circulating antibodies that can be programmed on the fly.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

This technique is several years away from trial in humans.