Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fine-tuning the flu vaccine for broader protection

09.08.2011
Study reveals features of influenza virus and our response to it that could reduce the need for annual vaccinations

An antibody that mimics features of the influenza virus's entry point into human cells could help researchers understand how to fine-tune the flu vaccine to protect against a broad range of virus strains. Such protection could potentially reduce the need to develop, produce, and distribute a new vaccine for each flu season.

A multi-institutional team led by Stephen C. Harrison, PhD, chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston, report their work and its implications for improving influenza vaccination this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

With each passing season, the two primary components of the influenza virus's outer coat, neuraminidase and hemagglutinin (the annual flu vaccine's primary target), mutate, allowing the virus to dodge any anti-flu immunity an individual may have generated in previous years. This evasion strategy, called antigenic drift, is why a new flu vaccine is necessary every year, a process that can take upwards of seven months.

From a public health perspective, an ideal influenza vaccine would protect against multiple strains of the virus, regardless of their hemagglutinin structure. The antibody, discovered by Harrison's collaborators at Duke University Medical Center and called CH65, gives new insights into how the immune system's response to hemagglutinin evolves over time, knowledge that could guide the development of just such a vaccine.

The researchers started with cells donated by an individual who received the flu vaccine for 2007. From those cells, they used genomic tools to generate a suite of antibodies, including CH65, that bound to and neutralized hemagglutinin from several seasonal flu strains. CH65 alone could bind to and neutralize hemagglutinin from 30 of the 36 strains tested.

"While it's unusual to find such broadly effective antibodies to the flu virus, they may actually be more common than we realize," noted Harrison, who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "What this tells us is that the human immune system can fine-tune its response to the flu and actually produce, albeit at a low frequency, antibodies that neutralize a whole series of strains."

CH65 mimics many key aspects of sialic acid, hemagglutinin's natural receptor, and binds to portions of hemagglutinin that the virus cannot mutate without reducing its ability to infect human cells. After comparing CH65 with other antibodies produced from the donor's cells, the team was able to deduce how the donor's anti-flu immune response had evolved to produce such broadly reactive antibodies as a consequence of multiple virus exposures over time.

With this knowledge, Harrison believes it may be possible to develop vaccines that actively direct the immune response to provide broad protection against multiple strains of the influenza virus, ideally by targeting the same portions of hemagglutinin as CH65.

"Developing a flu vaccine is currently a hit-or-miss enterprise," according to Harrison. "We vaccinate with a virus or part of a virus and hope that the immune response will evolve in a useful direction.

But for viruses like influenza that mutate rapidly," he continued, "we want to have a response that does a really good job at blocking both the strain of the virus in the vaccine and many related strains as well. These results point out what strategies we might employ to achieve that goal."

This study was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the US Department of Energy, and the National Center for Research Resources and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 1,100 scientists, including nine members of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 members of the Institute of Medicine and 13 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 395 bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about research and clinical innovation at Children's visit the Vector blog.

Children's Hospital Boston | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.childrenshospital.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A step closer to cancer precision medicine
15.11.2019 | University of Helsinki

nachricht Can 'smart toilets' be the next health data wellspring?
14.11.2019 | Morgridge Institute for Research

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New laser opens up large, underused region of the electromagnetic spectrum

15.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

NASA sending solar power generator developed at Ben-Gurion U to space station

15.11.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Typhoons and marine eutrophication are probably the missing source of organic nitrogen in ecosystems

15.11.2019 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>