We are still learning a lot about nanoparticles, how they impact our bodies and our environment, and how safe they are. How does the nanoparticle in your research offer both effectiveness and safety?
"This is a valid question and the safety and toxicity of our nanoparticle based agent has not been thoroughly tested. If we encounter a safety problem, in principle, we could change the chemical composition of our nanoparticle. The important aspect of this study is not the chemical composition of our underlying nanoparticle but rather its size, geometry, and the optimized spacing of the sialic acid groups on its surface and this could be accomplished using many different types of nanoparticles."
Do you see a treatment option such as this one as working in conjunction with annual vaccines? Do you think that if we have a highly effective treatment available, people we move away from getting annual vaccines, with all their imperfections?
"Effective vaccines are and will probably remain the best choice as they are generally inexpensive and prevent infection in the first place. In many cases, however, vaccines are ineffective. Also once you contract an infectious disease it is usually too late to vaccinate for protection. Finally, there are many people for whom vaccines cannot be used, like the immunocompromised, and in such cases antiviral therapeutics are the only choice. If one can tolerate annual vaccination it is typically recommended. If the disease is acquired by a non-vaccinated person or if the annual vaccination fails to protect then a therapeutic such as a neuraminidase inhibitor is required. One day a hemagglutinin binding agent, like our sialic acid-containing nanoparticles, might be used either alone or in concert with a neuraminidase inhibitor to effectively treat influenza."
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