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UT Knoxville research may lead to better flu vaccine
Date:2/27/2008

are much less understood than their immunological cousins known as T cells. According to Sangster, technological developments have made it easier to study T cells, leaving B cell discoveries slower in coming.

The findings, published in this week's online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lay important groundwork for future flu vaccine research, said Sangster.

Since vaccines use either weakened or dead copies of the flu virus to trigger the body's immune system into responding, the body's response to the virus in the vaccine is different and less powerful than its response to a full-on infection.

"With this understanding of memory B cell formation in response to a full-on infection, we have a model for vaccines in the response that they generate," Sangster said.

He said one of the next steps will be to look at any differences in how memory B cells are formed by vaccines given by injection versus those inhaled through the nose. He noted that those differences may provide more clues about the significance of the pool of memory B cells in the lungs.

"The Holy Grail for all of this is to develop a vaccine that will protect against a wide range of subtypes and strains of the flu virus," said Sangster. "We're not there yet, but this knowledge is a step in that direction."


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Contact: Jay Mayfield
jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu
865-974-9409
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Source:Eurekalert

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