Taking Aim at a Virus

Filed Under News 

NYT, 02/23/09 — Researchers have engineered antibodies that attack a part of the influenza virus that is shared by many strains.

Flu Vaccines go after the spikes on flu viruses, preventing them from penetrating human cells and injecting viral RNA. But there are 16 types of spikes, and the shapes mutate constantly. So flu vaccines have to be reformulated each year.

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New Antibodies go after the neck of the spike, which apparently does not mutate. Once clamped, the neck can still penetrate a cell, but it cannot inject RNA. Mice tested with the antibodies were protected from H5N1 flu in 80 percent of cases.
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Source: Nature Structural & Molecular Biology

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