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Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine recently made an important discovery that could help humans combat the influenza B virus more effectively.

The researchers found two antibodies that demonstrated the ability to shield mice subjects from dangerous and deadly infections caused by the influenza B virus. The finding was quite significant because the two antibodies, together with an antibody that combats other types of influenza viruses in humans, can be used to develop more effective drugs that can treat almost any flu. The findings from the mouse study were published in a scientific journal called Immunity.

“People forget that before COVID-19 hit last winter, we were already in the midst of a really bad influenza season, especially for children,” stated Dr. Ali Ellebedy, who was a co-senior author in the study.

The findings from the study may pave the way for better influenza treatments

Dr. Ellebedy is also an assistant pathology and immunology professor at Washington University. He noted that the influenza season started earlier than usual last year, and it heavily affected children and even resulted in death. Influenza claimed the lives of 187 children during the 2019-2020 flu season. Dr. Ellebedy also stressed the need for better treatments for influenza B. Researchers observed that the discovered antibodies have the ability to eliminate every influenza strain that they tested on the subjects.

There are two types of influenza viruses, namely influenza A and Influenza B. The latter is more resistant to the most common influenza medication, such as Tamiflu. This is why the recent findings are important because they highlight potential approaches to developing more effective treatments against influenza B.

The researchers obtained blood samples from an influenza B patient that had been hospitalized. They then drew cells that produce the antibodies that fight the influenza B virus and evaluated their performance. The researchers secured 7 antibodies that target neuraminidase. They then managed to isolate two antibodies named 2E01 and 1G05 that managed to inhibit all the neuraminidases from 9 different influenza B viruses. Further research showed that it would be difficult for the influenza B viruses to evolve to become resistant to the two antibodies, which means that treatments based on these antibodies will likely be highly effective.