You have probably heard people talking about the “protein diet”. A lot of body builders, athletes and even celebrities adhere to this diet plan. So why is there all this hype for protein?
Protein makes up the structure of all creatures. It is a very crucial component to achieving our total health. It is the nutrient that repairs and helps tissues grow and develop. Proteins are also present in the cells of muscles, bones and even in the blood for nutrient-carrying and exchange functions. Aside from that, it also guards bodies against infections and disease-causing viruses. Next to water, proteins make the biggest part of the body mass. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy and dairy products, nuts, seeds and legumes are some good sources of protein. After ingestion, these proteins from the food are broken down until they reach their simplest form, the amino acid.
There are two kinds of amino acids: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The essential amino acids are those supplied by food that the body cannot manufacture itself, and the non-essential acids which can be produced by an organism’s body. This article shall focus on the former kind.
Essential amino acids are found in the food we take and they cannot be made by the body systems naturally. Lack of this kind of amino acid can lead to medical conditions like muscle breakdown, lack of appetite and slowed muscle healing and growth. Due to lack of amino acid supply, the body will be forced to obtain the lacking amino acid from healthy muscles. Because of this phenomenon, malnutrition, retardation and even death may arise.
In the blood, the most plentiful supply of amino acid is serum albumin which carries the thyroid hormones, natural steroid and fatty acids to other body parts. There are two kinds of serum albumin: bovine serum albumin and human serum albumin. Now, based on the aforementioned functions, we probably know by now how human serum albumin is used by us, human beings. But did you know that we also use the serum from cows called bovine serum albumin (BSA)?
No, this kind of serum is not inside our bodies. Mostly, we use bovine serum albumin for laboratory experiments and science-related activities. The field that needs it most is biochemistry. ELISA or Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay is one process that depends on the serum. This process detects antibodies or antigens mixed in liquid or wet samples. The ELISA test assists in diagnosing whether a patient has HIV, malaria or tuberculosis. Through ELISA, diseases such as the Chagas disease which manifests itself initially as a simple infection and Johne’s disease, a disease in some animals with symptoms like wasting and diarrhea.
In immunohistochemistry, the serum is used to explore the behavior, life span and severity of a cancerous tumor.
Lastly, it is used to culture cells and study how to increase cell productivity and growth to promote over-all cell health. The serum is a very stable ingredient known for not affecting the validity of experiment results. It also prevents enzymes from sticking to laboratory materials like reaction tubes, pipet tips and other liquid-containing vessels.
One brand that sells BSA is Pre-Diluted Protein Assays Standards, diluted in 0.9% saline and 0.05 sodium azide, and is sold online.
The uses of bovine serum albumin are currently being explored further. Even though it is a by-product of the cow and cattle industry, the ingredient has proven its benefits for our own development.