June 19th, 2018

To Your Health: Ostrich antibodies could be a big help to humans

By Gillian Slade on March 13, 2017.

Ostriches could play an important role is fighting infections that many people currently die from.

Ostriches have such powerful immune systems that their antibodies could drastically reduce the rate of infections in hospitals. One ostrich egg is so large it holds the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs. They contain antibodies that are capable of destroying Clostridum difficile that can be contracted and be deadly for very ill patients with weak immune systems.

A company in the U.S., OstriGen, is behind some studies and so far tests are very promising. Other research has already shown that ostrich egg antibodies are effective in fighting bacteria and viruses to halt staphylococcus aureus and E. coli.

The potential is rather exciting and may include antibodies to fight influenza, salmonella and ebola. The “ostrich egg medicine” has already been turned into a candy that children in Mozambique are being given to enjoy if they have cholera.

If studies go according to plan we made see “ostrich egg medicine” in the next three to five years.

I know you are probably wondering about the sort of omelette or scrambled egg you could prepare with an ostrich egg. Forget a skillet, you wouldn’t find one big enough. You are probably also curious about what that egg looks like. There is a delightful video that provides the answers and will have you enjoying a laugh too. I mention the laugh because we all know that laughter can be the most wonderful medicine of all.

There is a British chef, Keith Floyd, who has travelled the world and prepares meals out of doors with limited equipment using local ingredients. One involves ostriches in South Africa. In this particular video, “Floyd On Africa – Cape Town – Township & Victoria falls (first episode),” you can skip to the ostrich bit by clicking about 22 minutes into the video. Not only are ostriches interested in what Floyd is cooking they are down right pushy about it. Perhaps their curiosity is heightened because among the ingredients is ostrich meat. He also has considerable difficulty cracking an ostrich egg open and in the end abandons his plans to make a ostrich omelette and basically hands over the “set” to the ostriches.

Here’s to wonderful research about the ostrich antibodies we can benefit from and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her by email on call 403-528-8635.

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