H3N2 mutation in last year's flu vaccine responsible for lowered efficacy

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A vaccine combining centralized ancestral genes from four major influenza strains appears to provide broad protection against the unsafe ailment, according to new research by a team from the Nebraska Center for Virology.

Apart from the above target, researchers are using different strategies to create a global flu shot vaccine that could target the stem of the protein which has got less chance of changing seasonally.

The health department stresses it's important to get vaccinated soon, before the worst part of the flu season arrives. The eggs are then allowed to incubate, and in turn, this allows the virus to replicate. "Some protection against H3N2 viruses is better than nothing and other components of the vaccine, like H1N1 and influenza B, will likely provide excellent protection this year". This induces immune cells to make antibodies that stop foreign invaders from infecting cells, readying them to attack flu viruses when the body sees them again. Those that received higher doses of the vaccine didn't even get sick. And this is apparently causing problems with the end product.

The current strain of H3N2 emerged during the 2014-15 flue season and remains prevalent today.

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The vaccines effectiveness in mice is an encouraging sign, but a lot more testing needs to be done before it could become commercially available.

Scientific American explains all the medical details very simply - In 2014, the H3N2 virus began wearing a new molecule on one of its surface proteins. When we're exposed to the proteins that form the outer layer of a killed flu virus, we generate antibodies that are ready to attack flu viruses whenever they reappear. Interestingly, the sugar-adorned viruses are not found in vaccines made using other methods.

It takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. "Our data suggest that we should invest in new technologies to significantly increase the production of influenza vaccines that do not depend on eggs", he argued. That's because current H3N2 viruses "don't grow well in chicken eggs, and it is impossible to grow these viruses in eggs without adaptive mutations", Scott Hensley, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology at Penn, said in a statement.

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