October 13, 2020 | computer | No Comments
Combining genetic and experimental data into models about the influenza virus can help predict more accurately which strains will be most common during the next winter, says a study published recently in eLife.
The models could make the design of flu vaccines more accurate, providing fuller protection against a virus that causes around half a million deaths each year globally.
Vaccines are the best protection we have against the flu. But the virus changes its appearance to our immune system every year, requiring researchers to update the vaccine to match. Since a new vaccine takes almost a year to make, flu researchers must predict which flu viruses look the most like the viruses of the future.
The gold-standard ways of studying influenza involve laboratory experiments looking at a key molecule that coats the virus called haemagglutinin. But these methods are labour-intensive and take a long time. Researchers have focused