Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NIH scientists target future pandemic strains of H5N1 avian influenza

13.08.2007
Preparing vaccines and therapeutics that target a future mutant strain of H5N1 influenza virus sounds like science fiction, but it may be possible, according to a team of scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and a collaborator at Emory University School of Medicine. Success hinges on anticipating and predicting the crucial mutations that would help the virus spread easily from person to person.

Led by Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIAID’s Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC), the team is reporting in the August 10, 2007 issue of the journal Science that they have developed a strategy to generate vaccines and therapeutic antibodies that could target predicted H5N1 mutants before these viruses evolve naturally. This advance was made possible by creating mutations in the region of the H5N1 hemagglutinin (HA) protein that directs the virus to bird or human cells and eliciting antibodies to it.

“What Dr. Nabel and his colleagues have discovered will help to prepare for a future threat,” says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. “While nobody knows if and when H5N1 will jump from birds to humans, they have come up with a way to anticipate how that jump might occur and ways to respond to it.”

“Now we can begin, preemptively, to consider the design of potential new vaccines and therapeutic antibodies to treat people who may someday be infected with future emerging avian influenza virus mutants,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “This research could possibly help to contain a pandemic early on.”

Making a vaccine against an existing strain of H5N1 or any other type of influenza virus is relatively routine. Typically, samples of existing influenza virus strains are isolated and then grown inside eggs or in cell cultures. The virus is then collected, inactivated, purified and added to the other components of the vaccine.

A flu shot prompts a person’s immune system to detect pieces of the inactivated virus present in the vaccine and make neutralizing antibodies against them. Later, if that same person is naturally exposed to a flu virus, these same antibodies should help fight the infection.

Influenza viruses constantly mutate, however, and vaccines are most effective against the highly specific strains that they are made from. This makes it difficult to predict how effective a vaccine made today will be against a virus that emerges tomorrow.

Dr. Nabel and his colleagues started their project by focusing narrowly on mutations that render H5N1 viruses better able to recognize and enter human cells. Bird-adapted H5N1 binds bird cell surface receptors. But these receptors differ slightly from the receptors on human cells, which in part explains why bird-adapted H5N1 can infect but not spread easily between humans.

About a year ago, the research team began asking what mutations help the virus shift its adaptability. They compared the structural proteins on the surface of bird-adapted H5N1 influenza virus with those on the surface of the human-adapted strain that caused the 1918 pandemic. They focused specifically on genetic changes to one portion of the H5 protein--a portion called the receptor binding domain. They showed that as few as two mutations to this receptor binding domain could enhance the ability of H5N1 to recognize human cells.

Additional mutations would likely need to accumulate for H5N1 to spread more easily from person to person, says Dr. Nabel. The few mutations he and his colleagues identified are likely just a subset of those, he emphasizes.

Moreover, they found that these mutations change how the immune system recognizes the virus. Mouse antibodies that target H5N1 were up to tenfold less potent against the mutants. Dr. Nabel and his colleagues used their knowledge of receptor specificity to create vaccines and isolate new antibodies that might be used therapeutically against human-adapted mutants.

They vaccinated mice with the material from viruses they altered to contain the mutant receptors, and they discovered one broadly reactive antibody that could neutralize both the bird- and human-adapted forms of an H5N1 virus.

According to Dr. Nabel, their findings should contribute to better surveillance of naturally occurring avian flu outbreaks by making it easier to recognize dangerous mutants and identify vaccine candidates that might provide greater efficacy against such a virus before it emerges.

“Our findings build on elegant studies of the influenza HA protein by structural biologists,” notes Dr. Nabel. “Insight into the structure of the avian flu virus has enabled us to target a critical region of HA that directs its specificity. Such a structure-based vaccine design may allow us to respond to this future threat in advance of an actual outbreak.”

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov
http://www.PandemicFlu.gov

Further reports about: Antibodies H5N1 Mutant NIH Nabel Vaccine avian mutations pandemic receptor therapeutic

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>