A new and faster way to fight the flu

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Rafi Ahmed, PhD:
A new and faster way to fight flu
July 23, 2009

Researchers at Emory University are using a new and faster method of rapidly producing highly targeted monoclonal antibodies for use in diagnostic tests as well as a temporary therapy to stave off infectious diseases such as the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and his collaborators generated high-affinity monoclonal antibodies against a strain of the influenza virus only a month after vaccinating human volunteers.

This new, timely technique allows researchers to quickly generate human antibodies against a pandemic flu strain as a stopgap therapy or to protect people from infection.

The antibodies, which can be isolated from a small amount of blood of humans infected with the virus, could be targeted against H1N1 and rapidly reproduced to detect or attack the virus. The monoclonal antibody technology was described last year in the journal Nature

Not only is the new method quicker and less cumbersome, the researchers' new technique could be applied to almost any infectious disease, says Ahmed.

To hear Ahmed’s own words about the technique, use the player at the top of this page or subscribe to the podcast.