Collaboration set to fight influenza

A collaboration between the Trudeau Institute and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, may lead to insights that will improve strategy against the influenza virus and other viruses that target the respiratory tract.

The research, reported in the current issue of Virology, detects the migration of white blood cells to the mucosal tissues of the nose when responding to a viral infection, reports. Using a vaccine that works more in tandem with the natural migration of these immune system support cells may help it to treat patients more effectively.

"As a result of the study, we learned that cells arrive early during the infection and persist at the site for months afterward, providing a first line of defense against a second infection with the virus," David L. Woodland, president and director of the Trudeau Institute and one of the authors of the study, said, according to

"These cells are 'soldiers' that guard nasal passages and combat viruses at their site of entry," Dr. Julia L. Hurwitz, a full member of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, said, reports. "In the future, a single application of vaccine by nasal spray or drops may be all that is needed for long-term protection against some serious respiratory virus infections."

Approximately 36,000 deaths occur in the United States each year from flu complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization estimates that flu claims between 250,000 and half a million lives each year worldwide.