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LIAI scientists make major finding on potential smallpox treatment

Research could lead to treatment that would help stop a smallpox outbreak

Researchers at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) have made a major advancement toward protecting society against a smallpox outbreak by identifying an antibody in humans that quickly fights the smallpox virus.

"This is a very important finding because it has the potential to be an effective treatment for smallpox in humans and therefore could help quickly stop a smallpox outbreak," said Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D, LIAI President. The finding is contained in a paper entitled "Vaccinia H3L envelope protein is a major target of neutralizing antibodies in humans and elicits protection against lethal challenge in mice" that was published in the September issue of the Journal of Virology. LIAI scientist Shane Crotty, Ph.D., a viral disease expert, led the team of LIAI scientists which made the finding. Dr. D. Huw Davies and Dr. Phil Felgner of the University of California, Irvine Center for Vaccine Research were also major contributors.

Dr. Crotty and his team have discovered a protein in the smallpox virus ?the H3 protein -- that elicits a particularly strong human antibody response. "Out of the 200 or so proteins contained in the smallpox virus, we found that the H3 protein is a major target for antibodies that kill the virus," he said. No actual smallpox virus was used in the studies in order to avoid any potential danger of transmission.

Dr. Crotty made the findings by studying blood samples from people who had received the smallpox vaccine. "We used new techniques that we developed that made it easier to identify and isolate antibodies from the blood of immunized humans. Then we carefully screened for the antibodies that fight the smallpox virus," he said. The researchers then tested their findings by creating a batch of the anti-H3 protein antibodies, which they injected into mice. "We were able to protect them from a strain of
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Source:La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology


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