Kicking Influenza To the Curb Sans Vaccines

Flu season has become a proverbial dirty word over the last decade. And even for those of us who aren’t in danger from the flu, being down for up to a week or more with flu symptoms isn’t how anyone wants to use their personal time off.

Well, researchers at the Ohio State University may have the answer we have all been looking for – with out the use of vaccines or the infection-fighter interferon. Flu vaccines can be ineffective because strains mutate and we never know what we are dealing with until people are already sick. This finding could someday help not only reduce the severity of the flu, but prevent infection altogether.

This new method involves stopping infection at the cellular level and is not strain-dependent. Researchers have isolated a single protein that is essential to fighting off the flu. Researchers at the Ohio State University have been using an experimental drug on mice and have demonstrated that by encouraging the production of this flu-fighting protein, which is usually not produced until after infection, mice became “immune” to all flu strains researchers have tested against the drug.

Researchers believe that someday such a drug could help stop pandemic influenza outbreaks such as we had in 2009.