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New influenza B antibody will help develop universal vaccine

IANS Jun 04, 2024

US scientists have isolated human monoclonal antibodies against influenza B, a finding that can pave the way for a universal vaccine for a disease that majorly affects children, the elderly, and also people with weaker immune systems.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) isolated two groups of monoclonal antibodies, from the bone marrow of an individual previously vaccinated against influenza, which bound to distinct parts of the neuraminidase, a major surface glycoprotein of the influenza virus, on the surface of influenza B.

In the journal Immunity, the team revealed that one of the antibodies, FluB-400, broadly inhibited virus replication in laboratory cultures of human respiratory epithelial cells.

They found that the antibody can also protect against influenza B in experimental models when given by injection or via nasal drops.

However, according to the researchers, intranasal administration may be more effective. It is also likely to have fewer systemic side effects than intravenous infusion or intramuscular injection.

It is because intranasal antibodies can "trap" the virus in the nasal mucus, thereby preventing infection of the underlying epithelial surface, they explained.

These findings support the development of FluB-400 for the prevention and treatment of influenza B and will help guide efforts to develop a universal influenza vaccine, the team said in the paper.

"Antibodies increasingly have become an interesting medical tool to prevent or treat viral infections," said James Crowe Jr, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Vanderbilt Vaccine Center.

He expressed happiness that his search for antibodies for the type B influenza virus, “which continues to be a medical problem”, has revealed “such potent molecules.”


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