SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Flu may be preventable without vaccines

Flu may be preventable without vaccines | Courtesy of medicalexpo.com
Scientists recently found a way to provoke an immune response against the flu without using the virus or interferon, which is a strong infection fighter.

"The flu vaccine needs to change every year because the virus is constantly mutating,” Jacob Yount, assistant professor of microbial infection and immunity at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study, said. “What we're doing is targeting a more fundamental process that is not specific to any particular strain of the virus.”

The study included cell samples from humans and from mice.

"If we were to have an outbreak of some pandemic influenza virus similar to what we experienced in 2009, I could envision using this technique to help people who are particularly vulnerable to infection," Yount said. "It would work best if used before an infection, because the strategy prevents cells from becoming infected in the first place."

This suggests that using a natural process may be a good alternative to preventing the flu infection from happening in the first place, let alone decreasing the flu’s severity.

"We figured out a way to induce just this single interferon response -- the most important thing interferon does for flu," Yount said. "That was a huge finding -- that you don't need an infection or interferon to increase the level of IFITM3. The steady-state level of the protein is enough to inhibit the virus if you get rid of NEDD4."

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