News / Health

Protein Rallies Immune System Against Flu

Researchers have found that a synthetic protein,  called EP67, instructs the body to respond against disease-causing organisms
Researchers have found that a synthetic protein, called EP67, instructs the body to respond against disease-causing organisms
x
Researchers have found that a synthetic protein,  called EP67, instructs the body to respond against disease-causing organisms
Researchers have found that a synthetic protein, called EP67, instructs the body to respond against disease-causing organisms
Jessica Berman
A synthetic protein given shortly after exposure to the flu bug might keep you from getting sick. The protein acts by rallying the immune system against the invading virus more quickly than usual.

Researchers began taking a closer look at the man-made protein, called EP67, in 2004, after discovering that when combined with vaccines, it helped increase the body’s immune response against a variety of disease-causing microorganisms.    

Biologist Joy Phillips and colleagues at San Diego State University in California then wondered whether EP67 alone would boost the immune system.  

In experiments with a strain of influenza A virus that infects mammals, including humans, Phillips narrowed down EP67’s mechanism. She says the protein doesn’t attack the virus. Instead, it stimulates the body's immune system, which acts as a sentry and instructs the body to produce specific immune responses against the disease-causing organism.

“It basically tells the immune system, ‘Look out. There’s a giant problem right here. You need to send in help,’” Phillips says.

Phillips led a team of researchers that infected mice with influenza A.  Rodents that received a dose of EP67 within 24 hours of exposure to the pathogen did not get nearly as sick as mice that were not treated with the protein. 

The rodent's level of illness was measured by weight loss. The untreated mice lost 20 percent of their body weight and some of them died, compared to the other mice that lost only six percent of their weight. Most importantly, treated mice given a normally lethal dose of influenza survived.

Phillips says the results suggest that - if given within a day of exposure - EP67 can be effective against virtually any strain of virus, bacteria, or fungus and even some pathogens that haven’t yet been identified. The flu vaccine, for example, must exactly match the currently circulating strain in order to work.

“It’s designed to respond against everything," Phillips says, "and to save your life until your very specific immune system can come up and clean up the final parts of the threat.”

But there may be one virus EP67 can’t protect against - HIV. The problem, according to Phillips, is that the virus that causes AIDS cripples the body's immune system by infecting its most important components, the T cells. That is one of the reasons it has been so difficult for scientists to develop an effective vaccine against HIV.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid