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Century after the pandemic, science has its best chance of catching the flu



WASHINGTON (AP) – The descriptions are disturbing.

Some victims felt good in the morning and were dead at night. The faces turned blue as the patients spat blood. The stacked bodies outnumbered the coffins.

A century after one of the most catastrophic disease outbreaks in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that killed tens of millions while sweeping the globe.

  Gillespie holds a vial of influenza antibodies at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland. Despite 100 years of science, the flu virus often exceeds our best defenses because it constantly mutates. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Rebecca Gillespie holds a vial of flu antibodies at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. Despite 100 years of In science, the influenza virus often exceeds our best defenses because it constantly mutates. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Biologist Rebecca Gillespie holds a vial of flu antibodies at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. Despite 100 years of In science, the influenza virus often exceeds our best defenses because it constantly mutates. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

There is no way to predict what type of flu virus strain might trigger another pandemic or, given modern medical tools, how bad it could be.

But researchers hope they are finally getting closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to reinforce much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics at the same time.

"We have to do better and better, we are referring to a universal flu vaccine, a vaccine that will protect against virtually all, or most, strains of influenza," said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

Laboratories across the country are looking for a super injection that could eliminate the fall flu vaccination in favor of one every five years or 10 years, or maybe, finally, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime.

Fauci designates a universal flu vaccine a priority for the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Last summer, he gathered more than 150 leading researchers to chart a path. Some attempts are entering the first stage of human security testing.

Still, it's a difficult task. Despite 100 years of science, the influenza virus often exceeds our best defenses because it constantly mutates.

Among the new strategies: researchers are dissecting the mantle that disguises the flu when it escapes the immune system and find some rare objectives that remains the same tension in tension, from year to year.

"We have made some serious inroads into understanding how we can best protect ourselves, now we have to bring it to fruition," said the famous biologist Ian Wilson. of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

The dark centenary highlights the need.

Back then, there was no vaccine against the flu. I would not arrive for decades. Today vaccination is the best protection, and Fauci never skips his. But in the best of cases, the seasonal vaccine is 60 percent effective. Protection fell to 19 percent a few years ago when the vaccine did not match an evolving virus.

If a flu strain never seen before erupts, it takes months to make a new vaccine. The doses came too late for the last, fortunately mild, pandemic in 2009.

Without a better option, Fauci said the nation is "chasing" strains of animal flu that could become the next human threat. Today's main concern is a deadly bird flu that jumped from poultry to more than 1,500 people in China since 2013. Last year it was mutated, which means that millions of doses of vaccine per case in a US reserve no longer coincide

___ [19659002] Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the NIH calls the 1918 flu the mother of all pandemics.

He should know.

While working as a pathologist for the military, he led the team that identified and reconstructed the extinct 1918 virus, using traces unearthed in autopsy samples of World War I soldiers and a victim buried in the permafrost of Alaska.

That misnamed Spanish flu "made the whole world a zone of death," wrote John M. Barry in "The Great Influenza: The History of the Deadliest Pandemic in History"

Historians believe it began in Kansas in early 1918. In the winter of 1919, the virus had infected a third of the world's population and killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. By comparison, the AIDS virus has claimed 35 million lives in four decades.

Since 1957, 1968 and 2009, three other flu pandemics have exploded, which have spread widely, but in no case are they so lethal. Taubenberger's research shows the family tree, each subsequent pandemic is the result of influenza viruses carried by birds or pigs mixed with 1918 flu genes.

"This 100-year timeline of information on how the virus It adapted to us and how we adapt to the new virus, teaches us that we can not continue to design vaccines based on the past, "said Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the NIH Vaccine Research Center.

__

The new vaccine search begins with two proteins, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, that cover the surface of the flu. The "H" allows the flu to adhere to respiratory cells and infect them. Subsequently, the "N" helps spread the virus.

They also form the names of influenza A viruses, the most dangerous flu family. With 18 varieties of hemagglutinin and 11 types of neuraminidase, most carried by birds, there are many possible combinations. That virulent virus of 1918 was the subtype H1N1; milder H1N1 strains still circulate. This winter H3N2, a descendant of the 1968 pandemic, is causing most of the misery.

Think of hemagglutinin as a miniature broccoli stalk. Its head similar to a flower attracts the immune system, which produces antibodies blocking infections if the upper part is similar to a previous infection or vaccination that year.

But that head is also where the mutations accumulate.

A turning point towards better vaccines was a 2009 discovery that, sometimes, people produce a small amount of antibodies that instead target spots on the stem of hemagglutinin that do not mutate. Even better, "these antibodies were much broader than anything we've seen," capable of blocking multiple influenza subtypes, said Wilson of Scripps.

Scientists are trying different tricks to stimulate the production of these antibodies.

lab at the NIH Vaccine Research Center, "we think that taking the trouble will solve the problem," Graham said. Your team makes the stems vaccine and attaches them to ball-shaped nanoparticles easily detected by the immune system.

In New York, the pioneer of influenza microbiology Peter Palese at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai uses "chimeric" viruses: the head of hemagglutinin comes from bird flu, the stem of the common viruses of the human flu, to redirect the immune system.

"We have made the head so that the immune system does not really recognize it," Palese explained. GlaxoSmithKline and the Gates Foundation are funding initial safety tests.

In addition to working with Janssen Pharmaceuticals on a stem vaccine, Wilson's team is also exploring how to convert anti-influenza antibodies into an oral medication. "Let's say a pandemic came along and you do not have time to make the vaccine, you want something that will block the infection if possible," he said.

Taubenberger of NIH is taking a completely different approach, developing a cocktail of vaccines that combines particles from four different hemagglutinins that in turn trigger protection against other related strains.

___

However, persistent mysteries hinder the investigation.

Scientists now believe that people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. "We may better recognize the first flu we have seen," said NIH immunologist Adrian McDermott.

The idea is that your immune system is marked with that first strain and that it does not respond as well to one vaccine against another.

"The vision of the field is that, ultimately, if you get the really good flu vaccine, it will work better when you give it to a child," Fauci said.

Even so, nobody knows what the definitive origin of that terrifying 1918 Flu is. But the key to its lethality was the bird-like hemagglutinin.

Chinese H7N9 bird flu "I'm very worried," said Taubenberger. "For a virus like the flu that is a master at adapting and mutating and evolving to face new circumstances, it is vital to understand how these processes occur in nature … How does an avian virus adapt to a mammal?"

As long as scientists look for those answers, "it's foolish to predict" what could bring an upcoming pandemic, said Fauci. "We just have to be prepared."

  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview at his office at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. As scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the influenza pandemic, labs across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics, too. "We have to do better and, better, we refer to a universal flu vaccine, a vaccine that will protect against virtually all, or most, of the flu strains," said Fauci. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview at his office at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. As scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the influenza pandemic, labs across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics, too. "We have to do better and, better, we refer to a universal flu vaccine, a vaccine that will protect against virtually all, or most, of the flu strains," said Fauci. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview at his office at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. As scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the influenza pandemic, labs across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics, too. "We have to do better and, better, we refer to a universal flu vaccine, a vaccine that will protect against virtually all, or most, of the flu strains," said Fauci. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Pipettes containing immune cells to test against possible influenza vaccines can be seen at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at Bethesda, Maryland. There is no way. to predict what type of strain of the flu virus changes shape could trigger another pandemic such as the 1918 flu or, given modern medical tools, how bad it could be. But researchers hope they will finally get closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Pipettes containing immune cells to test against possible flu vaccines can be seen at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 in Bethesda , Maryland. There is no way. to predict what kind of strain of the flu virus that changes shape could trigger another pandemic such as the 1918 flu or, given modern medical tools, how bad it could be. But researchers hope they will finally get closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Pipettes containing immune cells to test against possible influenza vaccines can be seen at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at Bethesda, Maryland. There is no way. to predict what kind of strain of the flu virus that changes shape could trigger another pandemic such as the 1918 flu or, given modern medical tools, how bad it could be. But researchers hope they will finally get closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Rebecca Gillespie places a vial of flu antibodies on ice at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland . Scientists now I think people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Rebecca Gillespie places a vial of flu antibodies on ice at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland . Scientists now I think people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Biologist Rebecca Gillespie places a vial of flu antibodies on ice at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda, Maryland. Scientists now I think people respond differently to vaccination based on their flu history. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test how immune cells react to possible flu shots at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 , in Bethesda, Maryland. There is a big push in laboratories across the country to create a super injection that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of an injection every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime . (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test how immune cells react to possible flu shots at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 , in Bethesda, Maryland. There is a big push in laboratories across the country to create a super injection that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of an injection every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime . (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test how immune cells react to possible flu vaccines at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 , in Bethesda, Maryland. There is a big push in laboratories across the country to create a super injection that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of an injection every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime . (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Jason Plyler holds a plate containing immune cells ready for genetic analysis at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland . Researchers hope they are finally getting closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to reinforce the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Jason Plyler holds a plaque containing immune cells ready for genetic analysis at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland . Researchers hope they are finally getting closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to reinforce the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Biologist Jason Plyler holds a plaque containing immune cells ready for genetic analysis at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 in Bethesda, Maryland . Researchers hope they are finally getting closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to reinforce the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  In this October 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, staff of the San Luis Red Cross Corps wear masks while holding stretchers next to ambulances in preparation for the victims of the influenza epidemic. A century after one of the most catastrophic outbreaks of disease in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that slaughtered tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. (Library of Congress via AP)

  In this October 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, staff of the San Luis Red Cross Corps wear masks while holding stretchers next to ambulances in preparation for victims of the influenza epidemic. A century after one of the most catastrophic epidemic outbreaks in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect against another super flu like the 1918 flu that slaughtered tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. (Library of Congress via AP)

In this October 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, staff of the St. Louis Red Cross Corps wear masks while holding stretchers next to ambulances in preparation for victims of the influenza epidemic. A century after one of the most catastrophic outbreaks of disease in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that slaughtered tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. (Library of Congress via AP)

  In this 1918-1919 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a driver checks to see if potential passengers wear masks in Seattle, Washington. During the influenza epidemic, masks were required for all passengers. The virus killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. Some estimates give a toll of up to 100 million. By comparison, the AIDS virus has claimed 35 million lives in four decades. (Library of Congress via AP)

  In this 1918-1919 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a driver checks whether potential passengers wear masks in Seattle, Washington. During the influenza epidemic, masks were required for all passengers. The virus killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. Some estimates give a toll of up to 100 million. By comparison, the AIDS virus has claimed 35 million lives in four decades. (Library of Congress via AP)

In this 1918-1919 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a driver checks whether potential passengers wear masks in Seattle, Washington. During the influenza epidemic, masks were required for all passengers. The virus killed at least 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. Some estimates give a toll of up to 100 million. By comparison, the AIDS virus has claimed 35 million lives in four decades. (Library of Congress via AP)

  In this November 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a girl stands next to her sister lying on the bed. The girl worried so much that she telephoned the Red Cross Home Service, which came to help the woman fight the flu virus. Nobody knows the ultimate origin of that terrifying flu of 1918. But researchers hope they will eventually come closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (Library of Congress via AP)

  In this November 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a girl stands next to her sister in bed. The girl worried so much that she telephoned the Red Cross Home Service, which came to help the woman fight the flu virus. Nobody knows the ultimate origin of that terrifying flu of 1918. But researchers hope they will finally get closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost the much needed protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics at the same time. (Library of Congress via AP)

In this November 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, a girl stands next to her sister lying on the bed. The girl worried so much that she telephoned the Red Cross Home Service, which came to help the woman fight the flu virus. Nobody knows the ultimate origin of that terrifying flu of 1918. But researchers hope they will eventually come closer to stronger flu vaccines, ways to boost much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect themselves against future pandemics at the same time. (Library of Congress via AP)

  This image of the 2005 electron microscope available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows recurrent 1918 influenza virions that were collected from a 1918 cell culture. A century after one From the most catastrophic disease outbreaks in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that slaughtered tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. Although there is no way to predict which strain of the flu flu virus can trigger another pandemic, the researchers hope to finally be getting closer to the stronger flu vaccines, which would boost the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics in at the same time. (Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC via AP)

  This 2005 image of the electron microscope available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows recurrent 1918 influenza virions that were collected from a 1918 cell culture. A century after one of the most catastrophic disease outbreaks in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that slaughtered tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. Although there is no way to predict which strain of the flu flu virus can trigger another pandemic, the researchers hope to finally be getting closer to the stronger flu vaccines, which would boost the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics in at the same time. (Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC via AP)

This 2005 image from the electron microscope made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows recurrent 1918 influenza virions that were obtained from a 1918 cell culture. After one of the most catastrophic disease outbreaks in history, scientists are reconsidering how to protect themselves from another super flu like the 1918 flu that massacred tens of millions while sweeping the globe in just a few months. Although there is no way to predict which strain of the flu flu virus can trigger another pandemic, the researchers hope to finally be getting closer to the stronger flu vaccines, which would boost the much-needed protection against the common winter flu and protect against future pandemics in at the same time. (Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC via AP)

  Biologist Rebecca Gillespie takes boxes of influenza virus strains from a freezer at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at Bethesda, Maryland. Laboratories across the country are pushing to create a super injection that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of a vaccine every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  Biologist Rebecca Gillespie takes boxes of flu virus strains from a freezer at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda , Maryland. is underway in laboratories across the country to create a super-vaccine that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of a vaccine every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

Biologist Rebecca Gillespie takes boxes of flu virus strains from a freezer at the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Bethesda , Maryland. is underway in laboratories across the country to create a super-vaccine that could eliminate annual vaccination against falls in favor of a vaccine every five or 10 years or perhaps, eventually, a childhood immunization that could last a lifetime. (AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster)

  In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross care for patients with influenza in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital. While scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, laboratories across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against common winter flu and protect themselves from future pandemics. (Edward A. "Doc" Rogers / Library of Congress via AP)

  In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross care for influenza patients at the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital While scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, laboratories across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against common winter flu and protect themselves from future pandemics. (Edward A. "Doc" Rogers / Library of Congress via AP)

In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross care for influenza patients at the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, used as a temporary hospital While scientists commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, laboratories across the country are hunting better vaccines to increase protection against common winter flu and protect themselves from future pandemics. (Edward A. "Doc" Rogers / Biblioteca del Congreso vía AP)

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