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Rapid response to influenza on the radar

A team of scientists from Georgia and Oklahoma in the US has developed a new way to generate fully human monoclonal antibodies more rapidly and successfully than current methods, which can take years. Rapid production of therapeutic antibodies could spark significant advances in preventing the spread and improving the treatment of infectious diseases — including a global pandemic of influenza.

Patrick Wilson and colleagues report in this week’s edition of Nature that just weeks after healthy patients received a booster vaccination for influenza virus, they were able to isolate antibodies directly from the cellular factories — specifically, antigen-specific antibody-secreting plasma cells (ASCs) — that produce them. Within 7 days of vaccination, on average 70% of the patients’ ASCs had produced functional antibodies that recognized the strain of virus in the vaccine.

According to the researchers, antibody therapy has been used to successfully treat a plethora of diseases. However, since antibodies generated in animals can induce anaphylactic shock, fully human antibodies as produced by the team will be safer for use in humans.

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