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Ways to fight the flu

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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 4:04 pm

20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu and the infected could be passing it on to you before they even know they're sick! But researchers are hard at work developing better ways to fight the flu.

It's a three letter word that might bring to mind a lot of four letter words. "You feel cold and warm and you cannot sleep."

Chemical Engineer Tim Whitehead and a team of researchers from across the U.S. want to wipe it out. "And so this is a powerful new approach."

Using super computers they're designing proteins from scratch that are able to find a vulnerable portion of the virus that's in most common strains and latch on. "That was an Achilles Heal for the virus."

In the lab, the protein's been tested in animal cells. “In the presence of our protein, the cells aren't infected."

Wired-dot-com reports, Craig Venter, who helped sequence the human genome wants us all to be able to print flu vaccines. At a recent health conference, venter said his team is working on digitizing vaccines that could be emailed, downloaded, printed from a special device and injected.

From printed protection to powerful proteins, soon the flu might not stand a chance.

Whitehead tells us the flu protein is separate from a vaccine, and the idea is to administer it before or after an outbreak. He says we're about five to ten years from human testing.

As for printable vaccines, testing is underway for a biological printer, but there are a lot of regulatory issues to consider before it ever becomes a reality.

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