Image Credit: Wilson lab, The Scripps Research Institute
Antibodies protect us from harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses, by attaching to them and labeling them for destruction by other immune cells. Scientists have discovered how a particular antibody, dubbed C05, manages to neutralize influenza A viruses. The antibody blocks the receptor binding site area of the virus, preventing it from attaching to and infecting cells. The receptor binding site area in influenza A viruses was thought to be too small for an antibody to lock onto. Antibody C05 however, manages to do so in an unusual way.
According to researcher Ian A. Wilson, "This highly focused binding to the receptor binding site using only a single loop on the antibody has never been seen before, and it's really fascinating; it gives us some good ideas about designs for vaccines and therapies." Because the viral receptor binding site does not vary from strain to strain, CO5 can effectively counteract a wide range of influenza A subtypes. The researchers were able to identify and obtain the antibodies by collecting bone marrow from individuals who had been exposed to the flu virus.
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