The Scripps Research Institute, USA
Title: Broad neutralization of influenza viruses and progress towards a universal vaccine and therapy
Biography: Ian A. Wilson
The major surface antigen, the hemagglutinin (HA), of influenza virus is the main target of neutralizing antibodies. However, until recently, most antibodies were thought to be strain-specific and protect only against highly related strains within the same subtype. However, in the past few years, many human antibodies have been isolated that are much broader and neutralize across subtypes and groups of influenza A and B viruses through binding to functionally conserved sites. We have determined structures of many broadly neutralizing antibodies with HAs and determined that their epitopes map to highly conserved sites on the HA fusion domain (stem) and receptor binding site (head). The identification and characterization of the epitopes and mode of binding of these antibodies have elucidated recognition motifs and conserved sites of vulnerability that provide exciting new opportunities for structure-assisted vaccine design as well as for design of therapeutics that afford greater protection against influenza viruses.