A team of researchers from the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge has unlocked new clues to the way that our immune system fights infections, reports the CBC.
The team’s findings’published in the latest online issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences‘revealed that antibodies, used to neutralize viruses, stay attached to a virus when it enters a healthy cell, triggering a response that clears the virus before it has a chance to do any damage. Until now, it was believed that antibodies could only combat bacteria and viruses outside cells.
This finding is important in that it may help scientists develop new antiviral drugs and may also change the way that scientists approach certain infections, such as the common cold. "This research is not only a leap in our understanding of how and where antibodies work, but more generally in our understanding of immunity and infection," said Sir Greg Winter, Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in a news release.
‘Doctors have plenty of antibiotics to fight bacterial infections but few antiviral drugs,” said Dr. Leo James, the study’s lead researcher, in a news release. “Although these are early days, and we don’t yet know the range of viruses that are cleared by this mechanism, we are excited that our discoveries may open multiple avenues for developing new antiviral drugs.’