An insidious biological trap will prevent the flu virus from reaching its target

German scientists managed to neutralize the bird flu virus using a new weapon - the phage capsid. It is a synthetic structure based on a natural bacteriophage that disguises itself as target cells and provokes the virus to attack itself. With a sufficient number of phage capsids, they are able to intercept the entire volume of viruses before they harm the body.

The idea of ​​creating such a weapon against influenza literally lies on the surface - the surface of the virus itself, which is covered with hemagglutinin thorns. They act as keys to attach themselves to sugar molecules on the surface of lung cells. To form a reliable bond, a very exact coincidence of the chemical structures of the two sides is required, but after formation it is very difficult to break it.

Scientists from Berlin created exact models of these sugar shells, after which they took a harmless bacteriophage Q-beta with a suitable structure, and "pulled" this shell over it. This multivalent scaffold molecule contains 180 identical proteins that are located in the same way as the trivalent hemagglutinin receptors on the surface of the virus. If the virus were "smarter", it would have had a chance to recognize the trick, but in this case, the modified bacteriophage is an ideal trap for the influenza virus.

Animal tests confirmed mathematical models - the bacteriophage securely encapsulated the virus, preventing it from multiplying in the lungs. Better yet, it has been shown to be effective against multiple strains at once. That is, the agent is suitable as a stand-by solution for seasonal diseases, and on its basis it is possible to relatively quickly develop a vaccine against new strains. This does not mean that the drug will appear tomorrow, but the technology itself opens up vast opportunities for virologists.