SAN DIEGO (January 1, 2007) Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) announced today the results of a first of its kind study analyzing all published data worldwide on influenza A virus antibody and T cell epitopes. Antibody and T cell epitopes are small sites on a virus that are the targets of the immune response, and they are critical for developing therapies and vaccines to combat infectious disease. The study, using information from a worldwide research database funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides an important tool for scientists seeking to develop vaccines and therapies against both seasonal and pandemic influenza strains, including the deadly H5N1 avian flu.
"This study shows what is currently known about influenza A virus epitopes -- what are the areas that are well covered in the current research and where are the holes in our knowledge," said Alessandro Sette, Ph.D., director of LIAI's Center for Infectious Disease and one of the study's authors. "From this information, the scientific community can determine areas where focus is needed going forward."
The findings are being published online this week in a paper, "Antibody and T Cell Epitopes of Influenza A Virus Knowledge and Opportunities" in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. LIAI researcher Huynh-Hoa Bui, Ph.D., was lead author on the paper.
The study looked at all scientific data on influenza A virus antibody and T cell epitopes published to date worldwide, drawing from the NIAID's Immune Epitope Database, a new worldwide scientific resource that went public last summer. LIAI researchers developed the database which is the world's largest repository of scientific data on how the body's immune system responds to infectious agents -- under a $25 million contract awarded by the NIAID in 2004.