One of the main characters’ biggest obsessions Last of us is to find a vaccine that can destroy the fungus that caused the epidemic that caused the apocalypse. In the end, this is what drives Joel and Tess to go on a dangerous adventure in get Ellie to safety. And this is what would also happen if the epidemic happened in real life, since there is no vaccine against it. pathogenic fungi. But soon it may exist, as a group of scientists from University of Georgia already developed very promising.

So far just tried animal models. However, the results have been so encouraging that they hope to start human clinical trials soon.

This would be an excellent option, as it has proven effective against three genera of pathogenic fungi: Aspergillus, pneumocystis And candida. All of them are known to cause diseases that are generally not serious, but can be dangerous and even fatal to humans. immunocompromised people. So far, they have been treated with antifungal drugs. This is partly why not much effort has been put into finding a vaccine. However, as with bacteria and antibiotics, many of these fungal pathogens have already begun to take effect. develop resistance. Now it could turn into something very dangerous. Maybe not enough to cause a pandemic like the one Last of usbut there could be many deaths. It is clear that a vaccine needs to be obtained, and these scientists are on the right track.

There is no vaccine against pathogenic fungi

In the second chapter Last of usThere is memory at the beginning of the epidemic, which took place in Jakarta, Indonesian. There, the cops tell the mycologist expert about what’s going on and ask her for a vaccine that can stop everything from happening before it’s too late. However, she is horrified and tells them that no vaccine and that the only solution is to bomb.

Set aside that fungus cordyceps it doesn’t infect humans and what the series brings up is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, what the scientist says is true. There is no vaccine against pathogenic fungi.

Vaccines today mainly attack viruses and bacteria. There are also vaccines against cancer; although despite the common name, the mechanism and purpose are different. But he can develop a counter pathogenic fungi. However, so far not as much effort has been made as with other microorganisms.

But that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried it. Various types of vaccines have been evaluated. Some included slices of live mushrooms and others attenuated whole mushroomssuch as classical vaccines against viruses and bacteria. There were also attempts nucleic acid vaccines. That is, something similar to the mRNA vaccines that were used against the coronavirus. Of all these vaccines against pathogenic fungi, even two have reached clinical trials in humans. However, so far none of them has reached final approval.

Sam Moghadam (Unsplash)

This vaccine will not work on Last of usbut that would be a good start

The vaccine developed by these scientists, the results of which are presented in PNAS Nexus, is very promising, as it is effective against three genera of pathogenic fungi. They are the ones that cause most diseases in humans, so this would be very effective. However, in Last of us it would be useless because cordyceps It is not on the list of fungi that can be prevented. mainly because it does not infect people.

But going back to real life to get broad spectrum vaccinethese scholars analyzed genome of three genera of fungi. The goal was to find areas of their genetic material that were conserved across all three genera. Thus, it was possible to get squirrels are present in all of them and train the immune system to fight them without distinction.

We must not forget that this is what vaccines do. mimic a pathogenic infection which they want to prevent so that the immune system will face this simulation and be ready for when the real infection arrives. At the same time, in experiments on animals, it was noticed that after vaccination they were effectively protected from three genera of pathogenic fungi.

Therefore, if something similar is done with a protein from cordycepsmaybe in Last of us they could get the vaccine without having to take Ellie with them while running from the mercenaries and the infected. But, of course, we would be left without part of the argument. In short, we can only enjoy the series in fiction and hope that the vaccine develops in real life. If implemented, it will be the first such project of its kind.

Source: Hiper Textual

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