Most people freeze when they hear the first two notes of John Williams’s theme from the movie Jaws. Lovers of classical music and band nerds will wait a few more bars (to make sure it’s not “Allegro con fuoco” from Dvorak’s New World Symphony) before feeling that cold shock from the music.
Because of that music and film, one sure way to clear the water by the beach is to shout the word “Shark!” Discovery Channel devotes an entire week to these marvels of evolution. The mystery and mystique of these animals remains firmly intact despite Discovery’s best efforts. But one of the great success stories of evolution now offers a possible hope to people diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis is the scarring of lung tissue that results in the lungs not oxygenating blood as effectively. There are several possible causes of this scarring, including exposure to microscopic particles being inhaled. There is also a strain of pulmonary fibrosis with no discernible cause.
Research being conducted by Australia’s AdAlta and La Trobe University has led to a compound that promises some hope as it readies for its first clinical trial in humans. The compound utilizes an antibody found in sharks to slow and even reduce the scarring of tissue in lungs. Animal testing has already shown considerable success in reducing scarring on both lungs and livers in mice.
The history of using animal and plant genes in medical treatment is as old as medicine itself, though it was not so scientifically directed in ancient times. These same principles are used in both western and eastern traditions.
The treatments that already exist for pulmonary fibrosis are not as effective as scientists think they can be. In fact, they are officially described as sub-optimal. AdAlta believes that they can use this shark antibody to get closer to optimal performance for this condition.
AdAlta has other treatments that are based on shark antibodies. They have called this family of treatment options “i-bodies.” The company believes that this avenue of treatment options is a possible future in medicine.
Maybe shark antibodies could help with scarring in other body parts as well. The next time you hear the Jaws theme (or the New World Symphony for that matter) maybe you won’t feel that cold shiver run down your spine.
Learn more about AdAlta’s research with i-bodies for Pulmonary Fibrosis by clicking here.