Antibodies are good

Just got back from donating a tiny vial of blood to the covid-19 antibody research study sponsored by St. Joseph's Medical Center. If you are a member of the Merced community, the SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Research Study will test you for covid antibodies for free. Just call the Research Coordinator Office at (209) 564-3607, schedule an appointment to sign consents at the UC Davis Cancer Center, pop next door to 315 Mercy Ave to get your blood drawn, and they'll call you if you've got antibodies.

Also known as immunoglobulins (Ig--not to be confused with IG, for instagram), antibodies are part of your body's immune system. An antagonist is a bad guy, but antibodies are good. They are your body's microscopic, globular, Y-shaped secret weapons. You want antibodies. 
Having the right antibodies in your blood means you won't have to get three more hepetitis B vaccines, two more measles-mumps-rubella vaccines, or whatever other big honking shots the MA at your doctor's office comes in with on a silver tray, a glint in her eye.

Antibodies come in five flavors: 
IgG: the stuttering antibody that crosses the placenta, comes in four forms and is the main, long-lasting flavor.
IgA: present in body fluids, the gut, respiratory, & urogenital tracts, produces antimicrobial factors.
IgM: first on the scene when sh*t hits the fan, riding humorous B cells.
IgE: protects against parasites but mostly responsible for annoying allergies.
IgD: antigen receptor on inactivated B cells; activates basophils and mast cells to make antimicrobial factors.

Antibodies can do five things:
Neutralize microbes by making them ineffective in their evil acts against your body.
Agllutinate: turn pathogens into tasty clumps for other immune cells to devour.
Precipitate: separate pathogens out of fluids into tasty clumps. Nom.
Complement activation/fixation: latch onto foreign cells to get complements (tiny proteins, not compliments) to attack cell membranes to pop them or at least cause inflammation. 

We don't know enough about covid-19 antibodies to say for sure how long antibodies last, how much conveys immunity, if any, and whether herd immunity is on the horizon, but your contribution could help scientists get more answers and shorten this surreal limbo period. All it takes is a vial of blood and maybe half an hour of your time. I specifically asked if they would be hitting us up for convalescent plasma if we're positive and the research coordinator said no, but you can always offer your life-saving 500mls to a blood bank!


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