Researchers Successfully Found Super Antibodies for Flu Virus

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Flu is an infectious disease that is easily transmitted to people around. But now researchers managed to find super antibodies that can fight all types of influenza A virus.

Scientists found super antibodies called F16, these antibodies can fight all types of influenza A virus that causes disease in humans and animals.

Researchers from Britain and Switzerland uses a new method that aims to produce vaccines for flu and managed to identify antibodies from human patients who can neutralize the major groups of influenza A virus.

Currently vaccine makers must change the formulation of flu vaccine every year to ensure that the vaccine can still protect the body from circulating virus strains. This condition makes the manufacture of flu vaccine a complex process, making it difficult to find a universal flu vaccine that can protect for several decades or lifetime.

“Medicine that is universal, especially in an emergency can be a priceless asset, as in the pandemic of 2009,” said John Skehel of Britain’s National Institute for Medical Research, according to Reuters.

Besides that, high risk from seasonal flu and the difficulty in predicting pandemic flu makes a better preventive care becomes important.

In the Science journal, researchers explained that when a person is infected with flu virus, the antibodies in their body will target the hemagglutinin proteins of the virus. However, these proteins are evolving so quickly, today there are 16 different subtypes of influenza A viruses which are divided into 2 groups.

While the human body normally produces antibodies to a specific subtype and a new vaccine each year is made to adjust these strains. Previous studies have found antibodies for group 1 or 2 only, but not for both.

But in this study, researchers succeeded in identifying the antibody super-F16 which can protect against influenaza virus infection either of groups 1 or 2. This study uses the method of X-ray crystallography to examine the human plasma cells in a very large number thus increasing the chances of finding antibodies.

“As the first antibodies that can target all subtypes of influenza A virus, the F16 can be an important new treatment option,” says Antonio Lanzavecchia, director of the Swiss Institute for Research in Biomedicine.

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