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HEALTH > New antibodies against various flu viruses found

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A team led by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and Crucell Vaccine Institute has described three human antibodies that provide broad protection against influenza B virus strains. The work was published in Science Express, the advance online issue of the journal Science, on Aug. 9.

The isolation of the new broadly neutralizing antibodies, which was reported the journal Science’s advance online edition, Science Express, paves the way for researchers to develop a universal antibody-based flu therapy for use in severe infections or to protect hospital staff during an outbreak.

Importantly, these antibodies may provide key clues to the design of an active universal flu vaccine—designed to protect long-term against flu viruses, not just against the current season’s strains.

“To develop a truly universal flu vaccine or therapy, one needs to be able to provide protection against influenza A and influenza B viruses, and with this report we now have broadly neutralizing antibodies against both,” said Ian A. Wilson, the Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at Scripps Research.

One of the newly discovered antibodies will be of special interest to flu researchers, because it appears to protect against essentially all influenza B and influenza A strains. “It’s the only one in the world that we know of that has been found to do this,” said Wilson. Looking for the Missing Pieces Influenza B viruses are considered less dangerous than Influenza A viruses, and have been less intensively studied because they have less capacity to mutate into deadly pandemic strains. However, influenza B viruses account for a significant part of the annual flu illness burden in humans.

August/14/2012

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