Birds’ immune systems reportedly have a great defense against a fungal infection from Cryptococcus neoformans that is known to kill hundreds of thousands to millions of people worldwide annually.
Researchers had decided to look into why birds have such a great immunity to these fungal infections, and found that it has to do with a particular type of white blood cell that birds possess that humans do not.
These blood cells art incredibly effective at mitigating and eradicating fungal infections in birds. As a result, birds are very immune to the same fungal infections that cause many human fatalities each year.
The hope is that by better understanding why birds are so immune to these fungal infections, we might be able to improve on our own immune systems to prepare our own bodies for the same fungal infections in a way that birds do naturally.
“By studying bird cells under the microscope, we have seen that macrophage cells have the ability to completely block the growth of the fungus, which can be fatal in humans,” explained Dr. Simon Johnston of the University of Sheffield.
Another part of the birds’ bodily functions that help them to fend off fungal infections is the internal body temperature of 42º Celsius, which compares to a human’s internal body temperature of 37º Celsius. This temperature difference seems like it isn’t much, but it’s too hot for the fungal infection to thrive.
All scientific research and findings, which are pulished in Nature, are going towards efforts to to fight the fatal infection known as cryptococcosis.
Source: University of Sheffield