Flu Vaccine Reinvented

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Written by InnovativeResearch on January 23, 2018. Posted in Blog

As the flu season is in full swing across the United States, scientists are looking at better methods to provide the population with stronger immunity, as outlined in a recent article by ScienceNews.

In general, vaccines protect from illness by stimulating antibodies in order to block viruses. When it comes to the flu, however, this approach is not always as effective as we'd hope - influenza antibodies are strain-specific, and the flu shot is formulated to protect against the most likely strains.

While this definitely does much of the heavy lifting (seriously, get your flu shot!), every year there are strains that emerge that are not included in the vaccine. This can lead to widespread outbreaks of influenza across broad sections of the country.

Taking a different approach, researchers are looking to develop a flu vaccine that will keep influenza viruses from escaping the body's first line of defense - a powerful antiviral system that includes various immune proteins and cells.

Making the influenza virus more visible to the immune system will help to bring about a strong immune response, helping the body to fight the virus more effectively.

Called the hyper-interferon-sensitive (HIS) virus, this new method of vaccination is showing promise. In a recent study, mice infected with HIS survived exposure to lethal doses of several different strains of influenza A, while the majority of those exposed without HIS vaccination did not survive.

Researchers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the genetic material of the influenza virus, creating a weakened version for vaccination purposes that is still able to jump-start the immune system. This approach could also be useful for creating more effective vaccines for other viruses, as well.

Find out more about the efforts to create a universal flu vaccine, and enjoy the full article on ScienceNews.


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