Remember that time you were bitten by that annoying ant, and how that caused you pain, an itchy sensation, and after a while, caused that area of your skin to swell and redden? Do you know what happened in your body that led to that process? That whole process that led to those reactions is called inflammation.
Inflammation is an important process of the body because it is part of the body’s immune response to foreign intruders into its system. Whenever tissue is damaged via any physical (injury, burn, or frostbite), chemical (poison, alcohol, or toxins), or biological means (infections, diseases, or allergies), an immune response is immediately generated by your body’s defense cells – the white blood cells.
During the inflammatory process, your white blood cells release chemicals into your blood, which are carried to the site of tissue damage. These chemicals attack the affected tissues in a way that fights off the bacteria or other foreign bodies in that area. When these chemicals are released into the blood, it intensifies blood flow to the injured tissues, stimulates nerves, and may cause fluids to get into the tissues, consequently leading to redness of the skin around the injured tissues, pain, and swelling of that area.
However, it has been discovered that when ticks invade your body by biting, their piercing is not felt because tick’s saliva contains proteins known as evasins that bind to your body’s key proteins – chemokines – that initiate the inflammatory response, weakening and hindering their functions.
Scientists have discovered that this effect of evasins can be useful for curbing inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and atherosclerosis since they all involve the attack of the affected tissues by the leucocytes. The only disturbing fact about this is that tick saliva constitutes a mixture of evasins that reacts with both the disease-causing and vital chemokines, and this explains why the inflammatory response is hindered when ticks bite.
Nonetheless, recently, scientists at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute have been able to find a way around this “disturbing fact” during their previously-conducted study on how these evasins can be customized to aim only at the disease-causing chemokines, so they can be applied clinically to control the occurrence of inflammatory diseases.
They were able to produce new evasins with new chemical structures that function to select only the chemokines that cause diseases. In this way, the evasins can be used without fear of it attacking the body’s important chemokines. This study led by Professor Martin Stone is the first that made this novel discovery on the fight against anti-inflammatory diseases. Meanwhile, scientists are still working on improving the protein molecules to make sure that they remain focused on their targets.
This study, as stated earlier, is the first that uncovered this anti-inflammatory approach. Since the majority of inflammatory diseases involve the release of chemicals to affected tissues, the knowledge of these modified evasins from this study can be employed by doctors and other health specialists to prevent and perhaps, treat inflammatory diseases.
After all, ticks are not completely harmful to humans – this study has shown that. The saliva of these insects is of high importance to controlling and preventing inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis since it contains evasins, which have been modified by these scientists to effectively hinder the inflammatory effect caused by the disease-causing chemokines in the body.