Study discovers possible solution to deadly flu virus

February 26, 2019

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that seasonal influenza epidemics kill many people each year – particularly dangerous to the elderly, children and those with compromised immune systems, and even certain ethnic groups without immunity to the disease.

Current vaccine formula offer limited protection and must be regularly updated because of mutating strains of the virus. Marios Koutsakos, a researcher at the University of Melbourne’s Doherty Institute, has said that strains usually change, thus accurate prediction and vaccination are nearly impossible.

However, Koutsakos and his colleagues have found that some white blood cells – killer T-cells – are effective in fighting common flu varieties. T-cells normally look for abnormalities and infections in the body, and are essential for human immunity. “Killer” T-cells then function to directly target and kill other infected cells.

The Australian researchers used mass spectrometry scans to identify parts of the virus that are shared across all flu strains, noting that the killer T-cells could effectively fight variations of influenza A, B and C when tested. These cells could potentially be used in an all-round flu shot that does not require constant updating, and could also be effective in people who don’t naturally possess them.

The researchers have patented their discovery, and hope to develop a universal influenza vaccine that benefits the whole population.

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Category: Features, Health alert

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