Lugano – Researchers in Ticino have discovered a molecule that is capable of recognizing the multiple variants of influenza and consequently of directing the immune response. This could pave the way for alternative therapies to vaccination.

Despite the development of effective influenza vaccines, the influenza virus is able to mutate and escape the body’s defenses. For this reason, a reformulation of the vaccine is required each year, as the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) explained in a press release.

A team of researchers from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) affiliated to the USI have now identified the molecule SIGN-R1. This is reportedly capable of recognizing the multiple variants of the influenza virus and can therefore direct the immune response to eliminate the virus. SIGN-R1 is also able to bind to other major respiratory pathogens.

The results of the Ticino research have been published in the scientific journal Nature Microbiology. According to the press release, they pave the way for the design of alternative therapies to vaccination. The potential new treatments could be used in clinical cases where patients are already infected or vaccines are not very effective.

The researchers in Ticino were supported by colleagues at the University of Toulouse, Harvard Medical School and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. 

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