Vaccines teach your immune system to recognize and destroy certain pathogens. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to get your immune system to recognize and mount attacks against some pathogens, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Researchers recently used computational modeling to design a tiny protein that kind of looks like part of an RSV protein. When they injected it into monkeys, many of the monkeys’ immune systems learned to recognize and neutralize RSV. This computer-designed protein might therefore be a good RSV vaccine candidate.

Could a computational modeling approach also work for other tough-to-target viruses, like those that cause AIDS, the flu, and
hepatitis C? We certainly hope so, but more research must be done…

For more about vaccine development, check out this Flash article:
http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2013/1001-bites-the-road-to-a-successful-malaria-vaccine/

You can also read up on designing proteins here:

Original Research Article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12966.html

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HIV-budding-Color_cropped.jpg

Special thanks to Harvard Ph.D. student Katherine Rogers for her perspective on the subject.

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