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article imageNew compound shows success against bird flu

By Tim Sandle     Mar 8, 2015 in Science
Scientists have developed an antibody shown to be completely protective against the H5N1 bird flu virus. The success has been demonstrated in two species of animal models.
Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 is a bird-adapted strain of a common type of flu virus. Avian influenza β€” known informally as avian flu or bird flu β€” refers to influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds. Some types of the virus can infect people.
Researchers working out of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Stanford University Medical Center, and MacroGenics have produced an antibody protective against the avian virus in two species of animal models. This is a considerable achievement, given the rate at which the virus mutates.
With the research, the scientists used antibodies that target antigens on viruses and inactivate them (an analogy is the way that a key would fit into a lock.). To avoid the issue of the flu virus mutating, the scientists developed a "dual-specific" antibody. They achieved this by connecting two different antibodies, both of which can attach firmly to H5N1 viruses and which form a single antibody-like molecule.
The new compound is called FcDART, for Fc (the type of fusion protein) Dual-Affinity ReTargeting molecule. Studies suggest that a single, low dose of the FcDART provides protection against lethal H5N1 viruses in laboratory animal models of influenza.
The latest research has been published in the Journal of Virology, in a paper titled β€œAn anti-H5N1 influenza virus FcDART antibody is an highly efficacious therapeutic and prophylactic against H5N1 influenza virus infection.”
In related news, bird flu appears to be on the rise across North America. Farmers have detected a different strain - H5N8 - in a commercial turkey flock in California, while Canadian officials document the first known human importation of H7N9 to the country.
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