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Episode 11: The Counterpunch

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We explore the power of the antibody — a protein that our blood cells make when our body encounters a virus.

Scientists have known for more than 100 years that if you take antibodies from someone who has recovered from a virus and transfer plasma, a blood byproduct, from that person to someone who is sick with that same virus, the patient will usually fare better than someone who doesn’t get this extra help.

“Somebody else's army has come to help you fight the war,” said Dr. Terry Gernsheimer, professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington and the medical director of transfusion at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. 

Gernsheimer and her UW research partner, Dr. Anna Wald, will be studying the plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19. 

“And one of the things that we're looking for is, do you have this antibody? We want to know why did you recover? We're thrilled that you did, but why you? What was it about you that made you different from the guy next door?” Gernsheimer said. 

The medical community has known for a long time that this therapy works, but doctors want to know more so that they can turn a therapy that is a bit of a blunt hammer into a more refined and precise tool that can be used until a vaccine is developed. 
In this episode we’ll explore research on the antibody front and the questions doctors are trying to find the answers to. We’ll get into the history of this science and we’ll tell you about one lab that is taking things to a whole new level by producing antibodies from scratch.

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Jennifer Wing is a Producer for our weekly show, Sound Effect.
Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.
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