New hopes for cure-all flu jab

SCIENTISTS said they had discovered immune cells that can fight all known fl u viruses in what was hailed as an ‘extraordinary breakthrough’ that could lead to a universal, oneshot vaccine against the killer disease.
Influenza epidemics, largely seasonal, kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, according to the World Health Organisation (世界衛生組織).
Due to its mutating strains, vaccine formulas must be regularly updated and only offer limited protection currently.
Researchers in Australia (澳洲) said that ‘killer T cells’ – found in over half the world’s population – were shown to be effective in fighting all common flu varieties.
This means the cells could potentially be used to develop an all-encompassing fl u shot that would not need to be changed annually, and may even be effective in people who do not naturally possess them.
“Influenza viruses continuously mutate to evade recognition by our immune system, and they are vastly diverse, making it nearly impossible to predict and vaccinate against the strain that will cause the next influenza pandemic,” said Marios Koutsakos, a researcher at the University of Melbourne’s Doherty Institute.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that roams the body, scanning for abnormalities and infections. ‘Killer’ T cells are unique in that they can directly target and kill other infected cells.

(This article is published on Junior Standard on 27 February 2019)

Seasonal infl uenza

World Health Organisation–Influenza