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Recent developments at Burnham Institute for Medical Research, May 2009
Date:5/12/2009

Human monoclonal antibodies effective against bird and seasonal flu viruses

Dr. Robert Liddington and colleagues, working with researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported the identification of human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize an unprecedented range of influenza A viruses, including avian influenza A (H5N1) virus, previous pandemic influenza viruses and some seasonal influenza viruses. These antibodies have the potential for use in combination with other treatments to prevent or treat certain types of avian and seasonal flu. The study was published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

New leads for treating autoimmune diseases

Several inflammatory diseases have been linked to a group of genes that encode immune defense proteins, called NLRs. Post-doctoral fellow Benjamin Faustin, in Dr. John Reed's laboratory, in collaboration with Dr. Arnold Satterthwait and colleagues, studied how endogenous inhibitors of NLRs function in hopes of developing strategies for mimicking their actions. The intended result is ameliorating various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases where hyperactivity of NLRs has been implicated. In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, the Burnham investigators show that short pieces of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins are sufficient to bind certain NLRs and suppress their activity. The findings have resulted in several new drug screening assays, which the team hopes to put to use to identify chemicals that mimic the endogenous inhibitors of NLRs and thus suppress inflammation.

"Sweet" insights to cancer metastasis

The surfaces of cells are covered with sugar molecules called glycans, which are linked to proteins and lipids. The sugars of these glycoproteins and glycolipids can take many complex forms. In particular, the glycan makeup of normal and
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Contact: Josh Baxt
jbaxt@burnham.org
858-795-5236
Burnham Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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