Glycobiology involves the study of eight sugars within the human body. These sugars (glycans) form antenna structures called cell receptors on the surface of all cells. One of the most important sugars is called sialic acid. It is often located at the end of these antennas. Sialic acid is made from another sugar called mannose within the body. The influenza virus attaches to human cells via sialic acid. The geometry of the sugar connection determines whether flu from animals can infect humans. The current coronavirus pandemic thought to originate from bats is a good example. Avian (bird) flu prefers to bind to sialic acid which is attached to galactose via an alpha (2,3) link (the second carbon in sialic acid is linked to the third carbon in galactose). Human flu prefers an alpha (2,6) link (sixth carbon in galactose).
The Coronavirus pandemic has engendered a lot of fear in people. The media reports and tracks daily the number of cases and deaths which are growing exponentially. Social distancing and self-isolation (quarantining) are reliable practices that can dramatically lower the total number of people infected. The death rate from the seasonal flu (influenza) is about 0.1% (1 in 1000 ) while the Covid-19 appears to be about 1% (1 in 100). Please note that the 3% sometimes reported in the news refers only to those who get an extremely severe case (most people do not). Even though 99 in 100 people survive this virus, there hasn't been much attention paid to how they do it. It all centers on our immune system and how we can strengthen it so we avoid serious cases which can turn into pneumonia.
Glycobiology scientists know that cell surface sugar structures resembling little antennas allow proper communication to take place between cells. These cell surface sugar structures are critical for a healthy immune system. These sugar receptors form a sugar shroud around the outside of cells called the glycocalyx. It is like having a beard of sugars covering the face of the cell. The whiskers of the beard are these sugar receptors.
There can be confusion about how glycobiology relates to apoptosis. Glycobiology is the science that studies glycans or sugars in the body. These sugars hold cells together, they allow cells to communicate together and they allow the immune system to function. In our A Wellness Journey class we share two quotes from the 2012 National Academy of Science publication on Glycoscience.
The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) has a strong pro-vaccine agenda. On their website, they list 27 studies they claim prove vaccines and autism are not related. When you read all 27 studies you find they actually only "study" one vaccine (MMR) and one vaccine ingredient (thimerosal). There are 38 ingredients and 11 other vaccines they should have studied also. It's even more disturbing when reading the studies to see they are clearly biased. For example, a premier study (Verstraeten) touted by pro-vaccine supporters and published in Pediatrics in 2000, is seriously flawed.