Watch proteins fold – but does that neccessarily mean better vaccines?

By | July 26, 2012
A new method for watching ribosomes as they convert DNA into proteins is certainly cool. But I'm not convinced that this will help us design better flu vaccines.

See, described in layman terms, flu vaccines are researcher's best guess at how the Influenza virus will mutate in the coming flu season. Watching proteins fold means that, if we know how to predict mutations in advance, we would have good vaccines. We already have had protein folding models for several years now, so experimental confirmation would just make things cooler. Nonetheless, the problem remains that inaccurate predictions lie at the heart of flu vaccine ineffectiveness.

Is my understanding of flu vaccinations completely incorrect, or is this just cool research without a practical use?

/via +Mike Clancy 

Researchers piece together how proteins fold
( — A new method for looking at how proteins fold inside mammal cells could one day lead to better flu vaccines, among other practical applications, say Cornell researchers.

One thought on “Watch proteins fold – but does that neccessarily mean better vaccines?

  1. Jim Lai

    To be useful, the next step would be computational simulation, allowing us to determine what mutations at a site and resulting protein coat changes may be likely. After that, a better vaccine could target both the base flu variant plus likely mutations with one shot. With an understanding of protein folding, we could optimize the number of variants targeted in a shot to cover more possibilities while controlling cost. It's unclear to me if there's a better approach.


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