Research ArticleInfluenza

Intranasal Antibody Gene Transfer in Mice and Ferrets Elicits Broad Protection Against Pandemic Influenza

Science Translational Medicine  29 May 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 187, pp. 187ra72
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006299

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Nosing Around Flu Therapy

Every year, people line up to get their seasonal flu shots, grumbling that “science” hasn’t yet found a universal flu vaccine. However, research into influenza has rapidly progressed in recent years, with the discovery of antibodies that neutralize broad swaths of influenza. Although not a vaccine, these antibodies have the potential to be used prophylactically. However, their direct use has been limited by our ability to deliver them to sites of infection. Now, Limberis et al. use a viral vector to deliver human antibody intranasally in both mice and ferrets.

The authors engineered their antibody into an adeno-associated virus 9 (AAV9) vector, which they then delivered to the nasopharyngeal mucosa—the site of initial infection of respiratory viruses. They show successful delivery of the antibody to the nasal mucosa surface. Intranasal delivery completely protected both mice and ferrets from challenge with clinical isolates of either H5N1 or H1N1 influenza, both of which have been associated with human pandemics. If confirmed in humans, this approach could be used to protect individuals in the case of an emerging pandemic or even high-risk populations from seasonal influenza.