Research by Hana Golding of the US Food and Drug Administration and colleagues has uncovered the regions (epitopes) of bird flu virus that are recognised by antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered from H5N1 avian influenza infection.
A human pandemic of the bird flu virus has not yet occurred because it does not pass easily between people, reports state. However, it could possibly acquire this ability. Many research efforts are therefore currently aimed at developing vaccines that would provide protection against a pandemic H5N1 strain.
Using a discovery tool known as “genome-fragment phage display libraries” the researchers found several H5N1 epitopes that have not been identified before, and were not recognised by antibodies from people who had recovered from infection with other, seasonal, strains of influenza.
This information can now be used to help design vaccines against H5N1 and antibody-based therapies for the treatment of H5N1 infections, and to develop new tools for monitoring outbreaks of avian influenza in human populations.
Source: Plos Medicine