Washington, Mar 27 : Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Tokyo have found that manipulating a previously identified protein may be the key to developing an effective H5N1 influenza A virus vaccine.
The influenza A virus M2 protein consists of three structural domains.
One of these three domains is a 54-amino acid cytoplasmic tail domain.
Researchers have previously found that deleting the M2 cytoplasmic tail caused a growth defect in the H1N1 influenza virus, indicating that the M2 cytoplasmic tail plays a vital role in virus replication.
In the new study, researchers from the two universities created an M2 tail mutant H5N1 virus, vaccinated mice with it and challenged the mice with a lethal dose of influenza virus.
They found that the mice were protected from death.
The finding has the boffins excited as it suggest that the H5N1 influenza A virus could not replicate.
They now believe that the M2 protein could be used as a vaccine.
"Here, we demonstrate that an M2 cytoplasmic tail deletion mutant protects mice from lethal challenge with a highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, suggesting the potential of M2 tail mutants as live attenuated vaccines against H5N1 influenza virus infection," say the researchers.
The study appears in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Virology.