New approach: a step closer to developing H5N1 vaccine
Manipulating a previously identified protein may be
the key to developing an effective H5N1 influenza A virus
The H5N1 virus has proven resistant to most antiviral drugs available for
treatment, and therefore the need for an effective vaccine has been emphasised.
According to researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the
University of Tokyo, the influenza A virus M2 protein consists of three
structural domains, one of which is a 54-amino acid cytoplasmic tail domain. The
researchers previously demonstrated that deleting the M2 cytoplasmic tail caused
a growth defect in the H1N1 influenza virus, indicating that the M2 cytoplasmic
tail plays a vital role in virus replication.
In the current study they created an M2 tail mutant H5N1 virus, vaccinated
mice with it and challenged the mice with a lethal dose of the influenza virus.
Results showed that the mice were protected from death, therefore suggesting
that the virus could not replicate and could therefore be used as a
"Here, we demonstrate that an M2 cytoplasmic tail deletion mutant protects
mice from lethal challenge with a highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, suggesting the
potential of M2 tail mutants as live attenuated vaccines against H5N1 influenza
virus infection," say the researchers.
Journal reference: T. Watanabe, S. Watanabe, J. Hyun Kim, M. Hatta, Y.
Kawaoka. 2008. Novel approach to the development of effective H5N1 influenza A
virus vaccines: use of M2 cytoplasmic tail mutants. Journal of Virology, 82. 5:
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