A UNIVERSITY of Hong Kong research finding will change medical textbooks and perhaps the way influenza is vaccinated against internationally.
It discovered that a skin cancer and wart treatment ointment, topical imiquimod (咪喹莫特), greatly enhances flu vaccination when combined with the usual jab provided the needle penetrates only to the dermal layer.
Influenza vaccinations are usually shot into the muscle layer.
The ointment targets dermal cells that notify the immune system about an influenza threat.
In a study conducted by HKU on the efficacy of imiquimod on flu vaccination, 160 volunteers aged 18-30 were split into four groups.
Only the group that received both an intradermal vaccination with the ointment pre-applied had significant immunological response.
Those in this group experienced a large increase in antibodies compared to those who did not have the ointment, or had intramuscular shots.
Seventy-five percent of the volunteers in this group also developed antibodies against a 1933 H1N1 strains that they were not even vaccinated against.
“The drug is able to cause the cells to notify louder,” said chair professor of infectious diseases Yuen Kwokyung(講座教授袁國勇).
Yuen wants to turn the ointment into a medicinal patch that may be applied more easily.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 19 November 2015)