Flu 'super antibody' found

2011-07-29 08:27

kalahari.com

London - Scientists have found a flu "super antibody" called FI6 that can fight all types of influenza A viruses that cause disease in humans and animals and say their discovery may be a turning point in the development of new flu treatments.

Researchers from Britain and Switzerland used a new method aimed at beating "needle-in-a-haystack-type-odds" and managed to identify an antibody from a human patient which neutralises both main groups of influenza A viruses.

Although it is an early step, they said, it is an important one and in time may pave the way for the development of a universal flu vaccine.

Vaccine makers currently have to change the formulations of their flu shots every year to make sure they protect against the strains of the virus circulating.

This is a cumbersome process which takes time and money, so the goal is come up with a universal flu vaccine that could protect people from all flu strains for decades, or even for life.

Future pandemics

Dozens of companies make influenza vaccines, including Sanofi Aventis , GlaxoSmithKline , Novartis , AstraZeneca and CSL .

"As we saw with the 2009 pandemic, a comparatively mild strain of influenza can place a significant burden on emergency services.

"Having a universal treatment which can be given in emergency circumstances would be an invaluable asset," said John Skehel of Britain's National Institute for Medical Research, who worked on the study with colleagues from the privately-owned Swiss firm Humabs.

Antonio Lanzavecchia, Humabs' chief scientific officer and director of the Swiss Institute for Research in Biomedicine, said high rates of seasonal flu and the unpredictability of possible future pandemics underlined the need for better treatments that target all flu viruses.

When someone is infected with the flu virus, their antibodies target the virus' haemagglutinin protein, the researchers explained in their study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

Because this protein evolves so rapidly, there are currently 16 different subtypes of influenza A, which form two main groups. Humans usually produce antibodies to a specific subtype, and new vaccines are made each year to match these strains.

To make progress toward a universal shot that could be used every year, scientists need to identify the molecular signatures that prompt the development of broadly neutralising antibodies.

Rare

Previous research work has found antibodies that work in Group 1 influenza A viruses or against most Group 2 viruses, but not against both.

This team developed a method using X-ray crystallography to test very large numbers of human plasma cells, to increase their odds of finding an antibody even if it was extremely rare.

When they identified F16, they injected it into mice and ferrets and found that it protected the animals against infection by either a Group 1 or Group 2 influenza A virus.

"As the first and only antibody which targets all known subtypes of the influenza A virus, FI6 represents an important new treatment option," Lanzavecchia said in a statement.

Researchers in the US said in 2010 they were having some success with a another possible approach to developing a universal flu shot, using a two-step system of a vaccine using DNA to "prime" the immune system and then a traditional seasonal flu shot.
Read more on:    health  |  research
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Mind power dominates and can help you to uncover things from a deeper level, but it can also create entanglements if you let your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.