New research may improve influenza treatment

Three influenza strains in Iowa
Three influenza strains in Iowa

A study of 10 years of data on human influenza B has provided novel information on the evolution and composition of the flu virus, which may lead to improved immunization programs using more precise targeting vaccines.

Assistant Professor Vijay Dhanasekaran and Associate Professor Gavin Smith from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School (Duke-NUS) spearheaded the study, which offered valuable information on how the virus' origins contrast with one another as well as from the influenza A virus.

"Our research shows that school-aged children are more susceptible than adults to influenza B virus lineages, especially the Victoria lineages," Dhanasekaran, of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-NUS, said. "This younger population should be targeted for the use of the quadrivalent influenza vaccines."

The study demonstrated how vaccines composed of two influenza A viruses and one influenza B lineage virus should be used to target a specific population.

Researchers also recommended that the influenza B vaccine should be re-evaluated as it could lead to controlling the virus.

Research further revealed if the quadrivalent influenza vaccine is expanded it may lead to entirely eradicating the Yamagata lineage of the virus from the human body.

Influenza affects 3 to 5 million individuals worldwide each year. The virus is blamed for 250,000 to 500,000 deaths yearly.