Scientists discover new ‘protective’ flu protein

Image copyright EPA Image caption There are two kinds of CVIDs

The first new resistance to vaccines has appeared in eggs, not an influenza vaccine, according to a report in the journal Science.

The evolution was discovered in a strain of influenza A (H1N1) virus that was part of the 2009 pandemic vaccine for the H1N1 strain that took place.

The protein, called NVC 12A, is one of two main types of CVID.

One common CVID is antibody response but researchers found a second protein containing a novel base (NVC 12B).

The new protein can be found in body fluid such as bone marrow or sebaceous glands.

In some strains, it is found in levels up to four times greater than in natural antibodies in the human body.

Dr David Allsky, a virologist at Rutgers University and leader of the research, told the BBC that although the new protein might be able to protect against some strains of flu, “it’s unlikely” that it can defeat the antibodies that protect against all strains of influenza.

“We think it could just continue to make antibodies at high levels, that’s its mutation, which at some point causes problems.”

Image copyright Health Protection Agency Image caption The flu vaccine contains NVC-15 at its highest dosage

Immunologist Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the BBC the finding represented “a nasty new twist” in the influenza vaccine.

The next step is to get together teams from three institutions, in the US, Australia and South Africa, to tackle the science behind the mutation.

The scientists will work out which other versions of CVID exist in other strains of H1N1 and find out whether it is possible to make vaccines that do not target antibodies against it.

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The news comes as an influenza vaccine is being introduced for the Northern Hemisphere winter that starts in January.

On the plus side for flu-stricken people, however, scientists have been told that there is no evidence to suggest that weakened flu vaccines do not work as effectively as the original.

But there is still the possibility of receiving a vaccine that does not protect you from the flu.

Dr Liz Lowcock, flu expert at Public Health England, said: “There is no evidence that the new strains are mutating to increase their ability to infect people.

“Over the last three decades our vaccines have been very good at preventing flu so we are working to make that even better.

“We will begin to change the vaccines we make to help protect against the flu virus and to make it more likely that people are protected from contracting flu and more likely to recover.”

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