Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Hansman: Human noroviruses are the major cause of outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis. There are several promising vaccine candidates. Vaccines may offer some protection, but the fact that the virus changes every other year produces a challenge. Therefore, my research group investigates the possibility to produce universal antivirals targeting conserved regions on the virus capsid.
We found that a Nanobody was able to bind with a high affinity, and broad reactivity to diverse norovirus types. The Nanobody binding on the virus capsid caused the virus particles to disassemble. The disassembly of the particles may render the virus non-infectious and block viral infections.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Hansman: At the moment, we are not ready to test in humans, but with further development and testing, we hope to provide a proof-of-concept in surrogate norovirus systems, since human norovirus cannot be grown in cell culture. A lot of work will be required before any clinical trials, but for now, we have the potential to modify the Nanobody for preclinical testing.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Hansman: We need optimize the binding to animal models and determine the effects in these systems. We have to work out ways to deliver the Nanobody in order to give the most effective treatment
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Grant Hansman (2015). Nanobody May Make Noroviruses Self Destruct