Ticks. First thought, yuk. Second thought, Lyme Disease. But medicine was not on the list of things I would usually associate with these pesky parasites.
Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) can lead to heart failure and in severe cases can be fatal. However, researchers believe tick saliva could be an efficient way to prevent this inflammation. With a little research myself, it actually starts to make sense. An extraordinary feature of a tick bite is that it can go unnoticed for days, showing no physical symptoms or even feeling like a bite. The reason for this is researchers have found that a tick’s saliva is full of special proteins which neutralise chemokines in the host. Thus, preventing any inflammation of the host site the tick may be living from.
For this reason, there is potential for tick saliva to become a crucial element in the medical world. The proteins found within it could be beneficial to those suffering from other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Yet, this research has so far only been conducted in the lab so we are years away from possibly seeing tick saliva in our medicines. On the plus side, the discovery could in the future be life changing for thousands of people.
One disease which could benefit from the inclusion of tick saliva is myocarditis. An illness which causes inflammation of the heart muscle. In many cases myocarditis is caused by a virus and can be treated. However, it is quite challenging to spot and without diagnosis can lead to cardiomyopathy or heart failure.
Although scientists are a while off of confirming tick saliva as a saviour of inflammatory medicine, the future definitely looks positive.