Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein Helps Immune System Mount 'Instant Strike' Against Deadly Flu Viruses

Date:
February 20, 2004
Source:
University Of Rochester Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers at the University of Rochester have identified a protein in the immune system that appears to play a crucial role in protecting against deadly forms of influenza, and may be particularly important in protecting against emerging flu viruses like the avian flu.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have identified a protein in the immune system that appears to play a crucial role in protecting against deadly forms of influenza, and may be particularly important in protecting against emerging flu viruses like the avian flu. The researchers believe that a vaccine made with a live but weakened strain of flu virus – such as the inhaled flu vaccine introduced last year – may activate this part of the immune system and offer the best defense against avian flu.

Related Articles


In a paper being published in the February 20 issue of Immunity, the researchers report that a protein called VLA-1 enables the immune system to develop "peripheral immunity" by anchoring millions of virus-killing cells to tissues along the airways and lungs, where flu enters the body. The protein holds the cells in place and helps them survive there for long periods – sometimes years – where they stand ready to mount an immediate attack on the flu virus.

In a series of experiments, mice whose T cells were able to make the protein were able to develop peripheral immunity, and 90 percent of them survived after being infected with a potentially deadly strain of flu. Mice with T-cells engineered to lack the protein failed to develop peripheral immunity, and only 60 percent of them survived after being infected with the same flu virus.

The findings demonstrate that when confronted by a potentially deadly flu strain, an effective first strike by T cells in the lungs can mean the difference between life and death. To immunologist David Topham, Ph.D., assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, the findings reveal something else: a shortcoming in the world's most widely administered flu vaccines. Those vaccines, made with fragments of "killed" viruses, help the immune system make antibodies against the flu virus but do not induce peripheral immunity.

The trouble with antibodies, says Topham, arises when a flu virus changes, either by mutating or by swapping genes with another virus – a scenario that experts fear would lead to a pandemic of avian flu. When a virus changes, antibodies often have difficulty recognizing the new virus and mobilizing the immune system to attack. And even if they do, it takes two to three days for antibodies to stimulate the production of T cells, and for those cells to begin attacking the virus. Unlike antibodies, T cells are much more effective at recognizing viruses that have changed, and they can attack instantly.

"In a lethal form of flu, like avian flu has the potential to be, you may not have three days. A lethal infection can gain such a foothold in that time that it can become very difficult or impossible for the immune system to overcome it," said Topham.

Topham believes that to protect people against an outbreak of avian flu, vaccine developers should switch to a vaccine made with a live but weakened flu virus. Such vaccines are thought to more closely mimic a natural encounter with the flu virus and are more likely to induce peripheral immunity, which might deliver an instant strike against the virus as the infection begins.

"When confronted by a deadly flu virus, the ability to attack it instantly, as soon as the virus hits the lungs, might mean the difference between life and death," said Topham. "Our goal should be to design a vaccine that helps the immune system produce peripheral immunity. A vaccine made from live virus offers the best chance of accomplishing this."

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and conducted at the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology, part of the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Rochester Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Rochester Medical Center. "Protein Helps Immune System Mount 'Instant Strike' Against Deadly Flu Viruses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040220080655.htm>.
University Of Rochester Medical Center. (2004, February 20). Protein Helps Immune System Mount 'Instant Strike' Against Deadly Flu Viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040220080655.htm
University Of Rochester Medical Center. "Protein Helps Immune System Mount 'Instant Strike' Against Deadly Flu Viruses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040220080655.htm (accessed March 3, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mom Triumphs Over Tragedy, Helps Other Families

Mom Triumphs Over Tragedy, Helps Other Families

AP (Mar. 3, 2015) After her son, Dax, died from a rare form of leukemia, Julie Locke decided to give back to the doctors at St. Jude Children&apos;s Research Hospital who tried to save his life. She raised $1.6M to help other patients and their families. (March 3) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Woman Convicted of Poisoning Son

Woman Convicted of Poisoning Son

AP (Mar. 3, 2015) A woman who blogged for years about her son&apos;s constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube. (March 3) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 58,000 heart stress tests to come up with a formula that predicts a person&apos;s chances of dying in the next decade. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins