A better flu vaccine: Is it possible?

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Could the current flu vaccine cocktail use a little kick? With an estimated 90% of influenza-related deaths occurring in people over 65, scientists from GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines in Hamilton, USA, believe so.

Researchers found that the currently approved flu vaccines are less effective in the elderly and people with weaker immune systems. As a result, they were testing adjuvants, the vaccine components that provoke a stronger immune reaction, which could be added to the regular flu vaccine cocktail to prompt even weaker immune systems to develop protective immunity against subsequent encounters with the flu virus. The study also found that a second possible way to increase vaccine efficiency against respiratory viruses is by nasal delivery. This stimulates both local and systemic (body-wide) immunity. And because the respiratory mucosa is the first line of defense against influenza, enhancing immunity locally in this tissue is likely beneficial.

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