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Discovery of natural antibody brings a universal flu vaccine a step closer
Date:7/7/2011

uses in lab-dish tests and in mice. The affected viruses include H3 and H7, two subtypes of great concern for human health that have already caused a pandemic (H3) or sporadic human infections (H7).

As with the CR6261 project, Ekiert and colleagues were able to grow crystals of the new antibody bound to an HA protein from a deadly strain of H3N2, and to use X-ray crystallography techniques to determine the antibody's structure and its precise epitope on the viral HA protein.

"It's even lower on the HA stalk than the CR6261 epitope; in fact it's closer to the viral envelope than any other influenza antibody epitope we've ever seen," said Ekiert.

Crucell is about to begin initial clinical trials of CR6261 in human volunteers, and the company expects eventually to begin similar trials of CR8020. If those trials succeed, aside from a vaccine the two antibodies could be combined and used in a "passive immunotherapy" approach. "This would mainly be useful as a fast-acting therapy against epidemic or pandemic influenza viruses," said Wilson. "The ultimate goal is an active vaccine that elicits a robust, long-term antibody response against those vulnerable epitopes; but developing that is going to be a challenging task."


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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