Scientists Find Way to Boost Flu Vaccine Accuracy
To manufacture seasonal flu vaccines each year, scientists use chicken eggs to grow strains of influenza virus that are expected to circulate in the upcoming flu season. But flu vaccines are notoriously ineffective; during the 2015-2016 influenza season, for example, vaccines reduced flu risk by just 42 percent.
The ineffectiveness of flu vaccines is thought to result from a combination of poor strain selection and the fact that, during vaccine production, viruses often mutate to adapt to the chicken egg environment. Now researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have found a way to prevent this mutation from occurring, and possibly improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines.
The technology is still being developed, but researchers are using it to create versions of flu vaccines in production for the 2017-2018 flu season. They plan to test these vaccines to determine how they differ from conventional flu shots in terms of growth, genetic stability, and flu protection.