Scientists have discovered a new antibody that works against the Flu, inactivating the virus when it comes into contact with it. It could lead to medications to fight the flu as well as the creation of a vaccine that would not have to be repeated year after year. The vaccine would be able to target a wide range of various flu strains.
“We identified new human antibodies that inactivate influenza, not just bird flu, but any of the seasonal influenza viruses that affect us in the winter,” said researcher Dr. Wayne A. Marasco, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The antibodies recognize a new part of the influenza virus and inactivate the virus by a new mechanism, Marasco said, “so it’s really a new target, new mechanism, new human antibodies.”
Antibodies can be used as drugs, he noted, adding that drugs derived from antibodies are commonplace in treatment for such cancers as colon, breast and lymphoma.
These antibodies were successful against the 1918 flu strain that was responsible for the deaths of over 40 million people around the world, including 500,000 in the U.S. In fact, it is successful in fighting about half of the strains of the flu that exist, and further studies could lead to a vaccine that can fight all strains of the flu.
The study is published in the Feb. 22 online edition of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. It will take at least until 2011 before clinical trials of drugs using the new antibody begin.
-via ABC News