Fighting the Flu with Non-infectious Viruses

Novel Flu Prevention Method

Source:  Artist Rendering of the Bacteriophages


German Scientific Discovery
Scientists in Germany have invented a novel means of defeating the flu.  They've created non-infectious virus shells that the flu virus latches onto.  This essentially traps the flu virus and prevents it from causing infection.

Highly Effective
The virus shells, created by the scientists, are called bacteriophages or simply phages.  They act as a trap for the flu virus by mimicking lung cells, which is the normal target of the flu virus.  The shells encapsulate the flu virus, thereby rendering it ineffective.  Mathematical models show the non-infectious phages to work effectively against a number of flu strains, including the deadly Avian flu virus.  Tests in animal models and cell cultures showed the phages neutralizing the flu in human lung tissue, preventing the flu from taking hold and spreading infection.

Next Steps
This is a very promising new approach, just published in the journal Nature.  Scientists still need to determine whether the approach would trigger any immune response in humans that might enhance or undercut the process.  They also need to determine if the flu virus might develop resistance to the phages.  

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