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Research could lead to a better understanding of flesh-eating disease

Royal Society University Research Fellow Dr Edward Taylor has joined the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences

 

Dr Taylor spent the last ten years at the University of York where he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2006. The funding continues for a further two years.

Dr Taylor’s research focuses on bacteriophage (often called phage) – which are viruses that infect bacteria. These are extremely common and mostly harmless; however some play a role in diseases such as diphtheria, cholera, dysentery, botulism, necrotizing (flesh-eating) pneumonia, toxic shock and scarlet fever.

Phages are nature’s “genetic engineers”, frequently swapping genes between bacterial strains. This happens by the phage attaching itself to the surface of the cell, making a hole and then injecting its own DNA into the bacteria. Occasionally this DNA becomes integrated into the bacterial chromosome where it lays dormant, but more commonly the phage is active straight away. The bacterial metabolism is hijacked, the DNA de-coded and new phages are produced in great numbers. Finally the bacterium is burst open and the new virus particles escape.

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Flu Antibody’s ‘One-Handed Grab’ May Boost Effort toward Universal Vaccine

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and Sea Lane Biotechnologies have solved the co-crystal structure of a human antibody that can neutralize influenza viruses in a unique way

 

The antibody recognizes the crucial structure that flu viruses use to attach to host cells, even though previously this structure had been thought too small for an antibody to grab effectively.

The immune protein manages to hit this precise spot by using just a small part of its target-grabbing apparatus. In so doing, it can neutralize a broad range of dangerous flu viruses.

“This highly focused binding to the receptor binding site using only a single loop on the antibody has never been seen before, and it’s really fascinating; it gives us some good ideas about designs for vaccines and therapies,” said Ian A. Wilson, the Hansen Professor of Structural Biology at Scripps Research. Wilson was senior investigator of the study along with Ramesh R. Bhatt of Sea Lane Biotechnologies. The report appears online ahead of print on September 16, 2012, in the journal Nature.

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Unprecedented Insight Into Fighting Viral Infections

Researchers at Rutgers and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have determined the structure of a protein that is the first line of defense in fighting viral infections including influenza, hepatitis C, West Nile, rabies, and measles.

 

Principal investigators of the study, "Structural basis of RNA recognition and activation by innate immune receptor RIG-I," chosen for advanced online publication in Nature, say the research is key in the development of broad-based drug therapies to combat viral infections.

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