Ed Yeates reporting An ingredient in pollution that can harm us just might actually save us from mad cow disease or numerous viral infections.
Brigham Young University studies have come up with some dramatic, rather surprising results.
Ozone! It's in the air, always has been there. If it concentrates too much - as pollution - we have a problem. But in precise, measured doses, it apparently can do wonders killing off our villains.
At BYU laboratories, researchers use safe levels of ozone to attack proteins called prions that cause mad cow disease.
This sample is full of prions. But after treatment - going - going - gone! And the same thing happens to viruses and bacteria.
Dr. Byron Murray/Microbiology Research, BYU: "But we can inactivate five, six, seven logs of virus -- that's a hundred million infectious units -- in just a few minutes."
This virus is surrounded with a protective envelope. But now, the ozone destroys it. Here's another virus. The ozone attacks - the villain is dying.
In another lab, BYU is testing some new technology developed by a Utah company called Lipidviro Tech. Once a way is developed to attach a marker to viruses or preons inside the body, this technology, for the first time, might just deliver a precise, measured dose of ozone to its target without affecting normal, healthy cells.
And there's more! Though still only theory, some researchers now believe if a cow is infected with mad cow prions - and that animal gets a secondary infection - those prions may spread throughout the body into bovine solutions and fluids used in the preparation of many drugs and vaccines we use every day.
But with this new technology..
Steve Keyser/Lipidviro Tech: "I would say in the next 12 months we will have a process that we can apply for USDA approval to purify various different bovine derived material and fluids."
That means those products would then be free of any potential prion contamination.