Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer-Aided Influenza Virus Vaccine Created

18.06.2010
A team of molecular biologists and computer scientists at Stony Brook University have used a novel method to weaken (attenuate) influenza virus by way of designing hundreds of mutations to its genetic code to create an effective vaccine. Reported online and in the July issue of Nature Biotechnology, the method may be a major step in developing more effective and safe vaccines against influenza, which claims 250,000 to 500,000 lives annually worldwide, partly because existing vaccines are not fully effective.

The research is an outgrowth of years of investigation by a team headed by Eckard Wimmer, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Stony Brook University. In 2002, Dr. Wimmer and colleagues synthesized and generated poliovirus, the first artificial synthesis of any virus.

Two years ago, they designed and synthesized a new class of attenuated polio viruses. Viruses attenuated by traditional means often make effective vaccines but sometimes mutate to regain virulence. The creation of synthetic viruses nearly eliminates the possibility of the virus regaining virulence.

In their latest research, the same method that the team used to create weakened synthetic polio viruses was employed to design an influenza vaccine. They found this vaccine effective and safe against influenza in mice.

“Essentially, we have rewritten the virus’ genetic instructions manual in a strange dialect of genetic code that is difficult for the host cell machinery to understand,” says Steffen Mueller, Ph.D., Senior Author and Research Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. “This poor line of communication leads to inefficient translation of viral protein and, ultimately, to a very weak virus that proves to be ideal for immunization.”

Dr. Mueller and colleagues made a synthetic influenza virus (strain A/PR/8/34) containing hundreds of changes in its genetic code. The changes they chose are commonly referred to as “silent” mutations because they do not alter the proteins that the virus produces. However, through computer algorithms developed by the researchers, mutations are arranged such that the resulting viral genome will produce less of those proteins, a process called “de-optimization,” a weakening of the virus.

“We used our ‘death by a thousand cuts’ method to create the mutated synthetic virus,” says Dr. Mueller. “Because the synthetic sequence contains hundreds of changes, the synthetic virus has essentially no possibility of regaining virulence.”

The researchers call the process “Synthetic Attenuated Virus Engineering,” or “SAVE.” They believe the SAVE approach can be applied to any emerging influenza virus strain. If shown applicable to influenza in humans, the SAVE method could become an essential tool in developing vaccines that may be effective against seasonal and pandemic influenza threats.

The Stony Brook team discovered that very small amounts of the new synthetic influenza virus safely and effectively immunized mice against an otherwise lethal virus strain. The synthetic virus did not cause disease in the animals unless given at doses about 1000-fold higher than the dose needed for immunization.

Titled “Live attenuated influenza virus vaccines by computer-aided rational design,” the journal piece summarizes the researchers’ scientific approach to developing synthetic virus vaccines. The research is supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Stony Brook University.

Dr. Mueller’s co-authors include: Eckard Wimmer, Ph.D., J. Robert Coleman, Ph.D., Anjaruwee Nimnual, Ph.D., and Bruce Futcher, Ph.D., of the SBU Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology; and Dimitris Papamichail, Ph.D., Charles B. Ward, Ph.D., and Steven Skiena, Ph.D., of the SBU Department of Computer Science.

Greg Filiano | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.stonybrook.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>