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Cytokine Immunity Technologies
Cytokine vs Antibiotic
For decades antibiotics have been used in cattle feed to insure healthier livestock. This in turn increases the return on investment in that livestock and reduces the "spoilage" associated with disease and the rapid spread of illness at the feedlot. In short the more healthy animals that make it to the processing plants the more money is returned on the investment in raising that cattle.
But the problem with antibiotics in food products is two-fold. It increases some disease agent resistance to those antibiotics and it can also be passed on to the human consumer with similar results. So science is looking for an alternative to antibiotics in the form of Cytokines.
What is a Cytokine?
Cytokines have similar functions to hormones and neurotransmitters in animals. In some circles cytokines are generally described as immune system hormones; in yet others a mimic of the neurotransmitter.
In reality this is an inaccurate description. Hormones are released from very specific organs in the body and neurotransmitters are only emitted from nerons.
Cytokines are released from many different cell types and just as many cell types have cytokine receptors.
What Cytokines Do
It has been found that cytokines play a central role in immune response. When the immune system is triggered to fight pathogens, cytokines signal immune response cells such as the T-Cell and macrophages instructing them to move to the site of the infection. Cytokines also activate T-Cells and Macrophages causing them to seek out and aborb / destroy invading pathogens. Since the T-Cells and Macrophages can also produce cytokines a literal cytokine storm may occur.
In a way cytokines act as both messengers and coordinators to the immune system response.
CytokineClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Possible New Tool in Animal Health
If a way can be found to either introduce cytokines in livestock or simply trigger their production, immune response in food animals can be manipulated in such a way that a more natural defense against disease is used within the body.
This in turn will reduce reliance on antibiotics in cattle feed which will make our food supply safer and the possibility of antibiotic resistant disease less likely.
Over time work with cytokines could end up benefiting humans directly. Animal studies are always carried out long before similar studies are carried out to humans benefit.
But there may be a time in the future when antibiotics are retired or relegated to only the hardest to treat cases of infection.