Stimulating Different Antibodies Could Improve Success of Flu Vaccines


A recent study by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) indicates changes could make flu vaccines more effective.  Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) figures out which strains of the flu virus should be targeted, based on information that it gets from laboratories throughout the world.  The flu vaccination for each year is developed to target those specific strains.  Because viruses can mutate quickly, this strategy is not always effective. In 2014, the vaccine was about 23% effective in protecting people from the flu, according to a study.

Flu vaccines work by stimulating antibodies to fight the virus.  Viruses are made up of Hemagglutinin (H) and Neuraminidase (N), hence the development of names like the H1N1 and H3N2 forms of the virus. Currently, scientists focus on stimulating higher levels of Hemagglutinin Antibodies (HA) to instill immunity.  But new research suggests higher levels of Neuraminidase antibodies (NA) might be more effective.

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