http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-t ... n-flu.html
PNAS 2014 ; published ahead of print April 14, 2014, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1404205111
New treatment could 'protect against any strain of the flu'
(Medical Xpress)—Scots scientists have developed a novel treatment that could protect against any strain of the flu.
It is hoped that the new development, led by researchers at the University of St Andrews, has the potential to guard against current, future and even pandemic strains of the virus.
In an international effort, the scientists involved say that the preventative treatment could be used as a 'frontline defence' before an effective flu vaccine is developed. Leading influenza experts say the new development is 'very exciting and potentially of great importance in this era'.
The BBSRC and MRC-funded research was led by Professor Garry Taylor and Dr Helen Connaris in the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex at St Andrews. They said "We have developed an alternative host-targeted approach to prevent influenza by synthesising novel proteins, or biologics, that are designed to mask specific sugar molecules that line the respiratory tract.
"The influenza virus, and indeed other respiratory pathogens, needs to bind to these sugars to gain entry to our cells to start the infection process."
The novel method was tested in mice by collaborators at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. These studies showed that a single intranasal dose completely protects mice even when given 7 days before a lethal challenge with the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus. As well as surviving, the mice develop antibodies against the virus suggesting that they are "vaccinated" against any future exposure to the virus.
One of the authors of the study, Dr Robert Webster, Rose Marie Thomas Chair of Virology at St Jude, is one of the world's foremost experts on influenza. He said, "The work is very exciting and potentially of great importance in this era of emerging viruses like H7N9 that have pandemic potential."