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National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Scientists Propose New Explanation For Flu Virus Antigenic Drift


10/29/2009 9:40:16 PM

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ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2009) — Influenza viruses evade infection-fighting antibodies by constantly changing the shape of their major surface protein. This shape-shifting, called antigenic drift, is why influenza vaccines -- which are designed to elicit antibodies matched to each year's circulating virus strains -- must be reformulated annually. Now, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have proposed a new explanation for the evolutionary forces that drive antigenic drift. The findings in mice, using a strain of seasonal influenza virus first isolated in 1934, also suggest that antigenic drift might be slowed by increasing the number of children vaccinated against influenza.

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