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Pandemic flu strain could point way to universal vaccine
Date:1/10/2011

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The nine patients studied were recruited through the Hope Clinic, the clinical division of the Emory Vaccine Center. They had a range of disease severities, from mild illness that waned after a few days to a severe case that required a two-month hospital stay including ventilator support. Most of the participants were in their 20s or 30s. Blood samples were usually taken about 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

The team of researchers identified white blood cells from the patients that made antibodies against flu virus, and then isolated the antibody genes from individual cells. They used the genes to produce antibodies in cell culture -- a total of 86 varieties -- and then tested which flu strains they reacted against.

Five antibodies isolated by the team could bind all the seasonal H1N1 flu strains from the last decade, the devastating "Spanish flu" strain from 1918 and also a pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain.

Seasonal flu shots contain three inactivated viral strains, each grown in chicken eggs. Over the last decade, it was standard that one of the three is an H1N1 strain. However, vaccination with any one H1N1 strain doesn't usually result in protection against all of them that's why the 2009 strain could make so many people sick.

Some of the antibodies the team identified stick to the "stalk" region of part of the virus (a protein called hemagglutinin). Because this part of the virus doesn't change as much as other regions, scientists have proposed to make it the basis of a vaccine that could provide broader protection.

"Previously, this type of broadly protective, stalk-reactive antibody was thought to be very rare," Wrammert says. "In contrast, in the patients we studied, these stalk-reactive antibodies were surprisingly abundant."

The team tested whether three of the antibodies they isolated could protect mice against the 2009 H1N1 strain or two
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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