Toward Better Flu Vaccines
A new method for looking at how proteins fold inside mammal cells could one day lead to better flu vaccines, according to a Cornell University press release written by Krishna Ramanujan.
The method, detailed online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lets researchers take "snapshots" of a cell's protein-making machinery, which is call the "ribosomes." A composite of the snapshots shows each proteins characteristic structure. Previously, scientists have used synthetic proteins to study protein folding but this study looks at proteins from their inception and thus gives a truer picture.
Flu vaccines are based on antibodies that recognize proteins. However, viruses have high mutation rates and often escape antibody detection. This is why flu vaccines lose their effectiveness. The hope is that this new technique will allow researchers to create vaccines that are accurately targeted.