Friday, February 11, 2011

Protect Yourself from Contracting the Flu

"Researchers hope a new treatment developed in the United Kingdom will prove vital in controlling future flu pandemics such as H1N1 (swine) flu, bird flu as well as ending the need for annual flu jabs. Developed by scientists at Oxford University, the new vaccine works by targeting protein cells inside the influenza A virus, instead of current vaccines that attack proteins on the outside of the flu virus. According to Sarah Gilbert, head of the project at Oxford's Jenner Institute, this method is effective because proteins inside the virus are far more similar across all the influenza strains and are less likely to mutate. In the first successful trial on humans, 11 healthy people were vaccinated and infected with the seasonal flu strain along with 11 non-vaccinated volunteers. The initial results are positive, says Peter Palese, professor and chair of microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, but more research is needed before the new treatment is approved. "But although the vaccine has been give to humans, unfortunately there is no evidence presented to say if it really results in protection against infection." Gilbert agrees more work is required before the vaccine becomes available, estimating a wait of at least five year, but says the results are a fundamental next step in the treatment of flu. (Universal Flu Vaccine Research)"

No one enjoys contracting the flu. You feel sick and nauseous to the point where you can hardly keep any food down, and you feel so weak that you have to stay in bed for days. Thankfully scientists from Oxford University have been working on a vaccine to prevent all those unappealing feelings. They still need to do more research and clinical trials, but the results so far are looking good. What surprised me the most was the statistics of how many people in the U.S. die each year just from the regular seasonal flu, around 36,000 people. If this new vaccine turns out to be helpful to the people participating in the clinical trials and the vaccine ends up on the market, it could not only save people from the nasty symptoms of the flu but could also possibly save lives. I found it very interesting and ingenious that the scientists decided to target the protein in the infected cells. Before scientists were having a hard time finding a vaccine for the flu because the virus mutates every year, so every year they would have to produce a new vaccine. Coming up with the idea to target the proteins in the virus, if it works, could bring us one step closer to curing the common cold. Since the common cold, like the flu virus, mutates every year.

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