Joint research group studies common flu strains

Joint research group studies common flu strains.
Joint research group studies common flu strains.
A collaboration of researchers is studying statistical variations of blood samples across all age ranges, looking for immune signatures or markers of vaccines, which may indicate vaccine effectiveness against common strains of flu.

Researchers represent Emory University, the Emory Vaccine Center, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Diego.

The study, which is among the first of its kind, indicates that “certain conserved elements of such signatures are indeed similar in the young and elderly as well as across multiple seasons,” lead author Dr. Bali Pulendran said. This means the immune signature reveals clues to unlocking vaccine longevity and ways to engineer vaccines that last more than one influenza season.

Also of note is the fact that new vaccines could potentially be tuned to individuals who are susceptible to the flu or who do not tolerate existing methods of vaccination. Unlocking statistically significant groups of blood samples indicates similarity, meaning broad-spectrum — widely usable — types of vaccines are potential results from this research.

Following the statistically significant groups directs the research toward helping larger numbers of people, as well as identifying those who do not respond well to existing vaccines, providing protecting for these groups against influenza.

“We are currently extending the results of this study to other vaccines to determine whether the signatures of influenza vaccination can be used to predict immune responses to other vaccines and if, indeed, there is a universal biomarker of antibody responses to vaccination,” Pulendran said.

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Emory Health Sciences

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