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Preventing pandemics and the quest for an influenza ‘super-shot’

| | January 22, 2018

A century after one of history’s most catastrophic disease outbreaks, scientists are rethinking how to guard against another super-flu like the 1918 influenza that killed tens of millions as it swept the globe.

But researchers hope they’re finally closing in on stronger flu shots, ways to boost much-needed protection against ordinary winter influenza and guard against future pandemics at the same time.

“We have to do better and by better, we mean a universal flu vaccine. A vaccine that is going to protect you against essentially all, or most, strains of flu,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

Among the new strategies: Researchers are dissecting the cloak that disguises influenza as it sneaks past the immune system, and finding some rare targets that stay the same from strain to strain, year to year.

Scientists now think people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. “Perhaps we recognize best the first flu we ever see,” said NIH immunologist Adrian McDermott.

The idea is that your immune system is imprinted with that first strain and may not respond as well to a vaccine against another.

“[I]t’s folly to predict” what a next pandemic might bring, Fauci said. “We just need to be prepared.”

Read full, original post: Scientists seek super-shot for flu 100 years after pandemic

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