Multi-purpose weapon against flu discovered?

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European researchers develop new flu vaccine

Researchers are working on a new flu vaccine that is designed to protect vaccines other than previous ones from a wide variety of flu viruses. So far, flu vaccines have only provided effective protection against individual virus types. Protection against the different influenza viruses could only be achieved by combining different active ingredients. However, since the influenza pathogens mutate extremely quickly, the flu vaccines also had to be adjusted annually.

Now an international team of researchers with scientists from Switzerland, Great Britain and the Netherlands have discovered an antibody that is supposed to protect against all flu viruses as a kind of all-purpose weapon. The identified antibodies have already been proven to be effective in animal experiments on mice and ferrets, according to Davide Corti of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Bellinzona, Switzerland, in the current issue of the scientific journal Science. Since the antibodies have an effect on all strains of influenza, a vaccine developed from them could protect against all flu viruses for years, the researchers conclude.

New antibody against influenza discovered Scientists have been researching flu vaccines for years, which are intended to be effective as a general-purpose weapon against all influenza viruses. The team of European scientists has now achieved initial success. As part of their study, the researchers led by Davide Corti were able to use a new method to identify the extremely rare antibody F16 in a patient, which is said to act against both major influenza A strains. Due to its special structure at the virus binding site, the newly discovered antibody is able to dock on all viruses of the influenza A strains in order to develop its effect there, the researchers report in the current "Science" article. According to the scientists, the antibody binds to a point on the virus outer shell that changes only slightly as a result of mutations, so that a corresponding vaccine would also protect against new influenza A viruses. The influenza A strains make up the majority of the common flu viruses.

Antibody could serve as a general-purpose vaccine against influenza A strains. The flu viruses use special proteins to dock onto the cells of the human organism and then use the cells for their own reproduction. In the influenza A strains, the hemagglutin protein is used by the flu viruses to bind to the corresponding receptors in the host cell. The antibodies use this protein to dock onto the viruses and destroy them, the scientists report. However, the flu viruses change their structure relatively quickly, whereby the structure of hemagglutinin is often also affected, so that the previous antibodies lose their effect. The flu vaccines were therefore only able to protect against the pathogens for a limited period of time, the experts explained. If necessary, the flu vaccinations had to be renewed annually. Science has therefore been looking for long-term antibodies to develop a general-purpose vaccine against influenza. However, the chances of identifying an antibody that works against numerous different flu viruses have so far been considered to be extremely low. The European research team has now succeeded in doing just that. The extremely rare antibody F16 is said to protect against all flu viruses of the influenza A strains.

Research into the universal vaccine against influenza British researchers led by Sarah Gilbert from the Jenner Institute reported first successes in February of this year in the search for a universal vaccine against all influenza viruses, but they took a different approach than the scientists to Davide Corti in their current investigation. The British researchers developed a novel vaccine (vaccine) that, unlike previous vaccines, attacks the flu virus inside the virus and thus offers long-term protection against all flu virus, Sarah Gilbert and colleagues reported in early February. The active ingredient developed by the British researchers should not dock onto the surface of the virus, but instead, according to the researchers, targets two proteins in the core of the influenza virus. Since these proteins are an essential component of all flu viruses, the British scientists hope that the vaccine can act as a general serum against all types of influenza. (fp)

Also read:
Sleeping sickness due to swine flu vaccine
Swine flu is no reason to panic
Swine flu facts
New general vaccine against flu

Sabine Holzke /

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Video: The Spanish Flu Was Deadlier Than WWI. History


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