Peptide Based Assay for Differentiation of Influenza Virus Subtypes
The influenza virus is responsible for yearly flu seasons and, from time to time, to dangerous flu pandemics. At the moment, the only protection against influenza is vaccination. But the nature of this virus allows it to change quickly and new virus variants appear every year, against which the previous vaccines are ineffective.
Every year, the new strands have to be isolated and characterized as quickly as possible. A large time gap between the emergence of a new strand and the development of a new vaccine can lead to large flu seasons. Therefore, there is a need to streamline the process from strand identification to vaccine suggestion, in order to minimize time, standardize results and increase the match between the new virus and the yearly vaccine.
Currently, a global influenza surveillance group is responsible for monitoring the virus subtypes. Samples from infected patients are isolated and analyzed with resource to hyper-immune serum from ferrets. This process is not only time-intensive, but also hard to standardize and reproduce, reducing therefore the power of the results.
The goal of our project is to validate a subtypisation assay for the influenza virus with resource to short peptides. These peptides have different affinities to each of the influenza subtypes and produce therefore specific binding patterns that can differentiate the virus strands. This process is simple and quick, and can help increase the effectivity of the vaccination. Importantly, it also completely eliminates the need for the death of thousands of ferrets every year.
This innovative platform will be developed through a partnership between the University of Potsdam, the Fraunhofer IZI-BB and the reference lab at the Robert-Koch-Institute.