New Type Of Antibody Marks Infected Cells, Makes Them Visibl
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Scientists have discovered a unique way to target a common virus that affects one in 200 newborn babies in the UK but for which there is only limited treatments available. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a master at hiding from the body's immune system so antibodies and T-cells cannot attack it as they do in other viruses, like the current coronavirus.

The researchers have now discovered a new type of antibody in the lab which - instead of killing the virus directly - marks infected cells so the immune system can see them. Once the immune system can see the infected cells it is able to kill the virus. The team have submitted a patent for the unique immunotherapeutic and hope it can help to treat HCMV, which can leave newborn babies severely disabled or even kill them.

Further work is needed to make sure it is safe and effective in humans - but the researchers hope the technique could eventually be used to fight other infectious diseases and the method they used to find the new antibody could be applied to cancer. "HCMV is a major challenge because it has evolved a range of different techniques to avoid the body's own immune response", a researcher said.

In this study, the researchers looked at whether antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) - a particular type of immune response in which a target cell is coated with antibodies and killed by immune cells - could be exploited for therapeutic use.

They used a special technique to characterize the molecules found on the surface of the infected cell and combined this with immunological screening to identify targets for ADCC. They found a unique target expressed early in the virus's lifecycle and were then able to develop human antibodies for use against this target.

Source:
https://www.jci.org/articles/view/139296
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