Discovery suggests that a ’live virus’ vaccine may offer best defense against avian flu
Researchers at the University of Rochester have identified a protein in the immune system that appears to play a crucial role in protecting against deadly forms of influenza, and may be particularly important in protecting against emerging flu viruses like the avian flu. The researchers believe that a vaccine made with a live but weakened strain of flu virus – such as the inhaled flu vaccine introduced last year – may activate this part of the immune system and offer the best defense against avian flu.
In a paper being published in the February 20 issue of Immunity, the researchers report that a protein called VLA-1 enables the immune system to develop "peripheral immunity" by anchoring millions of virus-killing cells to tissues along the airways and lungs, where flu enters the body. The protein holds the cells in place and helps them survive there for long periods – sometimes years – where they stand ready to mount an immediate attack on the flu virus.
Chris DiFrancesco | EurekAlert!
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