“(...) A subset of white blood cells called ‘killer’ T cells can provide immunity across all the different types of influenza viruses that can infect humans”, an international researchers team leaded by Australians has found.
This could be a hope for an universal influenza vaccine. Harvesting and replicating these cells could lead to the production of an all-in-one flu shot which would only be administered once a decade or possibly once in a lifetime. T cells are a crucial part of the human immune system. In animal tests, the researchers were able to activate the killer cells in mice. However, about humans, the “killer” T cells identified in the study are only found in 50 percent of the world’s population. Actually, this is the target for the study, to be continued.
T cells at work
The advisory board of WHO recommended that next year’s flu vaccine cover the H1N1 strain and two types of the influenza B virus. The H3N2 strain will also be covered, the board said. The specific subtype will be announced in March. WHO convenes advisers in February and September each year to recommend viruses for inclusion in the vaccines for the upcoming influenza season. Flu strains are different in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. For the instant every flu vaccine is a cocktail, aimed at either three or four of the most common flu strains and flu vaccines must be reformulated every year because flu viruses mutate constantly in a process called antigenic drift.