A Flu Cure in Spitting Distance

Next year’s flu shot may come from llamas!?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Flu vaccines help us make antibodies — trained assassins that target bad bugs!  But flu comes in many strains, which are always changing. This makes it challenging to predict the most common flu forms each year.

Nick Lauresen from the Scripps Institute may have found a solution – down on the llama farm!  Flu viruses have legs and heads. The seasonal variety comes from different types of heads, but the legs are all the same.  Human antibodies target the head of a flu virus, while llama antibodies recognize the LEGS.

The researchers used llama antibodies to make a flu vaccine.  Then they treated mice with the new vaccine before infecting them with influenza A and B. Results? The llama vaccine protected the mice against MULTIPLE flu strains at once!

The researchers believe this could be effective in developing future flu shots.

For now, llama stick to washing my hands — and getting THIS year’s flu shot!