Adjuvants increase immune response for H7N9 flu vaccine

Adjuvants increase immune response for H7N9 flu vaccine.
Adjuvants increase immune response for H7N9 flu vaccine. | Courtesy of
A team of scientists from The Wistar Institute recently found a specific set of mutations within influenza that has adapted to avoid the traditional vaccine design, making adjuvants more valuable in improving the immune response to vaccines like the H7N9 flu vaccine.

"Our studies show that flu viruses recently acquired mutations in critical regions that are recognized by our immune system," Scott Hensley, Ph.D., assistant professor at The Wistar Institute and leader of the study, said. "These new mutations likely contributed to the ineffectiveness of flu vaccines during the 2014-2015 flu season."

Influenza and similar viruses are able to mutate throughout time.

"I have a really talented team of researchers who are very good at quickly dissecting the specificity of flu antibody responses," Hensley said.

This is why the flu vaccines that were distributed for the 2014-2015 flu season were significantly ineffective; the flu virus had mutated in ways that researchers had not anticipated when developing the vaccine.

"We identified mutations that were common in flu isolates in December of 2014 and we engineered viruses that allowed us to characterize these mutations the following month," Benjamin Chambers, graduate student in the Hensley laboratory, said.

Further details have been published online in the Cell Reports journal.

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Wistar Institute

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