A single antibody may soon provide a one-size-fits-all antiviral for multiple strains of influenza. Researchers in the online version of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology have identified a human antibody that disarms the flu virus by jamming the machinery it uses to fuse with host cells.
Hemagglutinin and antibody in complex

Image: William Hwang
Genes that code the influenza surface protein hemagglutinin are constantly reshuffled and tweaked, helping the virus hide from the immune system. To adjust to this rapid shape-shifting, the vaccine in the flu shot must be updated every year. But the newly discovered antibody targets a region of the virus that rarely undergoes genetic change and is similar across many types of influenza. "I think it's fantastic," said Robert Webster, a virologist at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., who was not involved in the research. "It's a very big achievement and points to...
Wayne Marasco
The binding region on the virus
Image: William Hwang

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?