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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

BME Seminar: Michael Vahey, PhD

Thursday, March 7 | 10:00 AM

Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, 218
6760 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA

Presenting on "Mechanisms of antibody-mediated protection against respiratory viral infection".

Michael Vahey, PhD, assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Washington Universiy, will speak on Thursday, March 7, 2024 at 10:00 am CT in Whitaker 218.

AbstractRespiratory viruses cause severe infection in over 100 million people worldwide each year. Antibodies provide one of the best defenses against these infections, and as a result, considerable effort has gone into the development of vaccines that can elicit potent and protective antibodies. Despite tremendous success towards this goal, the biophysical features that make a “good” antibody remain challenging to define. In this seminar, I will present our efforts to address this challenge in the context of two important human respiratory viruses: influenza A virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Using engineered viral variants amenable to sensitive, high-resolution microscopy, we find that the orientation with which antibodies bind to their viral target plays a critical role in the activation of specific forms of immune signaling. This effect is further modulated by the structure of the virus, rendering some virus particles inherently more immunogenic than others. We also find that antibody binding orientation contributes to the potency with which antibodies inhibit viral assembly and release from infected cells. This inhibition is achieved through antigen crosslinking on the infected cell surface, which we are able to predict through structure-based models. Collectively, these results establish biophysical features of antibodies - beyond their binding affinity - which contribute to protection against infection.

Registration to attend virtually is required. Please register.

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology, Medicine & Health



Biomedical Engineering


Event Contact

Mimi Hilburg | mhilburg@wustl.edu

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