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Lab Reports
November 6, 2013

Cellular Immune Response May Be Key to Universal Flu Vaccine

JAMA. 2013;310(17):1785. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281694

Individuals who were infected with influenza during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic but developed no symptoms or only mild ones tended, at the start of the pandemic, to have more immune T cells that specifically recognized conserved viral proteins, report researchers from the United Kingdom (Sridhar S et al. Nat Med. doi:10.1038/nm.3350 [published online September 22, 2013]).

The prospective cohort study included 342 individuals who were recruited before the onset of the second UK pandemic wave in 2009 and studied through the 2 consecutive influenza seasons, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. The presence of preexisting T cells in individuals who were protected against severe illness points to a potential strategy for a universal flu vaccine. The authors suggest that such a vaccine might be designed to enhance T-cell responses, in contrast to current vaccines, which induce antibody responses.