Skip to comments.Synthetic protein kick-starts the immune system to prevent all strains of the flu
Posted on 07/09/2012 10:44:45 AM PDT by CutePuppy
We've seen promising moves towards developing a universal or near-universal influenza vaccine, but researchers at the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center have taken a different tack to ward of the crafty virus. Although the flu virus actively keeps the immune system from detecting it for a few days, giving it time to gain a foothold, the researchers have found that a powerful synthetic protein, known as EP67, can kick start the immune system so that it reacts almost immediately to all strains of the virus.
Previously, EP67 had primarily been used to help activate the immune response by being added to a vaccine. But Joy Phillips, Ph.D from San Diego State University and her colleague Sam Sanderson Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, saw potential for the protein to work on its own.
Because EP67 acts on the immune system rather than the virus itself, it functions the same regardless of the flu strain. Compare this to the flu vaccine that needs to be tailored to match the currently circulating strain.
"When you find out you've been exposed to the flu, the only treatments available now target the virus directly but they are not reliable and often the virus develops a resistance against them," Phillips said. "EP67 could potentially be a therapeutic that someone would take when they know they've been exposed that would help the body fight off the virus before you get sick."
Phillips adds that EP67 could also be used in the event of a new strain of infectious disease, before the pathogen has even been identified, citing SARS or the 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak as previous examples where the protein may have proven useful.
Testing EP67 on mice infected with the flu virus, the researchers found that those given a dose of EP67 within 24 hours of infection didn't get sick - or as sick - as those that weren't treated with EP67. With the level of illness in mice measured by weight loss, mice infected with the flu typically lose 20 percent of their body weight, while those treated with EP67 lost an average of just six percent. More importantly, Phillips said, the mice treated a day after being infected with a lethal dose of influenza didn't die.
Since EP67 is active in animals, including birds, the researchers say their research also has huge implications for veterinary applications.
The team plans to also examine the effect EP67 has in the presence of a number of other pathogens and will take a closer look at how exactly the synthetic protein functions within different cells in the body.
The researcher's study is published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE.
Source: San Diego State University
"EP67 should be effective against a wide variety of pathogens," said Phillips. "Since EP67 works by stimulating local innate immunity, it should prove effective against viral, bacterial and fungal diseases." ..... < snip > ..... "Work focused on bioterrorism often stresses protection against human pathogens, but protecting the world food supply is another extremely important concern," Phillips continued. ..... < snip >
< snip > ..... "EP67 can protect from a lethal dose of influenza even when treatment is delayed for a full day after the time of infection," said Joy Phillips, lead author of the study. "This protection is not limited to a single strain of influenza, as is the case for the vaccine, but should protect against all strains of influenza A or influenza B." Phillips said the protein has not been tested against highly pathogenic strains like the avian H5N1 influenza, but it's possible it would also protect against such strains.
"EP67 should be effective against a wide variety of pathogens," said Phillips. "Since EP67 works by stimulating local innate immunity, it should prove effective against viral, bacterial and fungal diseases." ..... < snip >
..... "Work focused on bioterrorism often stresses protection against human pathogens, but protecting the world food supply is another extremely important concern," Phillips continued. ..... < snip >
This sounds earily like an episode of Stat Trek. Next step is all the grumps (grownups) turn into zombies.
Vitamim D3 and its affectiveness as a deterrant to influenza are becoming widely known. It is nice to know that there is an alternative, particularly if someone cannot use D3 or EP67.
Vitamin D3 Replaces Flu Shot
Nope. But close. Will Smith in "I am Legend". Good flic BTW
The onsets of many health conditions and diseases related to weakend immune systems can be traced directly to VitD3 deficiencies, which is more prevalent than has been given credit for previously. The U.S. governmetn has recently raised the VitD3 RDA but it still seems insufficiently low for much of the population.
Higher Vitamin D Levels Linked to Fewer Infections - FR / TET, by Dr. John Briffa, 2010 July 10
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome in Studies - FR / NIH, 2010 June 20
The value of EP67 seems to be that it can act post-facto of infection, so it can act as antidote or emergency agent - "... researchers said that mice infected with a lethal dose of influenza did not die after receiving the protein."
In science fiction terms it is I Am Legend mixed with Logan’s Run with a dash of Lord Of The Flies for good measure.