One of the difficulties in vaccinating against annual flu pandemics is the myriad of different virus strains and the ability of the virus to rapidly mutate – which occurs so much faster than vaccine development.
Excitingly, however, Aharon Gedanken from Bar-Ilan University and colleagues from the Israeli Ministry of Health have developed a method of virus inhibition effective against several different strains, including H1N1 (swine flu). By using gold nanoparticles with anionic surface functional groups mercaptoethanesulfonate or mercaptosuccinic acid, the researchers were able to inhibit infection in MDCK cells, with no cytotoxic side effects. They believe the mode of action is due to the nanoparticles preventing the virus from attaching to the cell surface, but further research is currently under way to determine the exact mechanism.
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Effective multi-strain inhibition of influenza virus by anionic gold nanoparticles
Matias Sametband, Sourabh Shukla, Tal Meningher, Shira Hirsh, Ella Mendelson, Ronit Sarid, Aharon Gedanken and Michal Mandelboim
Med. Chem. Commun., 2011, Advance Article