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Influenza

Cue examines a droplet of saliva or blood to calculate a digital measurement of your healt...

Not so long ago, self health monitoring was largely limited to weighing ourselves to see how a diet was going and sticking a thermometer under our tongue to see if we were getting sick. For everything else we went to the family doctor. That was in the past. Technology has put health and fitness monitoring firmly in consumers’ hands. Starting with pedometers in the 1980s and progressing to the myriad wearable fitness trackers flooding the market today. The grip has just tightened again with Cue – a device that allows users to run medical diagnostics from the comfort of their own home.  Read More

Tobacco plants used in the development of the vaccine

A familiar news topic during the flu season is the difficulties that the authorities face in producing enough flu vaccine fast enough to control the outbreak. That’s a serious enough problem, but when the influenza outbreak turns out to be the start of a global pandemic, then hundreds of millions of lives could be at risk. To combat this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a new way of making vaccines that has turned out 10 million doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine in a month, in a recent test run.  Read More

The synthetic protein EP67 acts on the immune system to attack the influenza virus (Colori...

We’ve seen promising moves towards developing a universal or near-universal influenza vaccine, but researchers at the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center have taken a different tack to ward of the crafty virus. Although the flu virus actively keeps the immune system from detecting it for a few days, giving it time to gain a foothold, the researchers have found that a powerful synthetic protein, known as EP67, can kick start the immune system so that it reacts almost immediately to all strains of the virus.  Read More

Micrograph of influenza viruses (Image: Cybercobra via Wikipedia)

Staying healthy during flu season is about to get easier thanks to researchers at China's Academy of Sciences and Academy of Agricultural Science, and it doesn't involve painful injections. Instead, the team has developed a way to improve air filter technology to specifically target influenza viruses, effectively stopping them before they get inside our bodies and make us ill. The nice thing about air filters is that they work both ways, so sick individuals wearing the modified filters will end up shedding less viruses into the environment too, which can also help reduce the rate of new infections.  Read More

In this set of four photos, dengue hemorrhagic fever virus kills untreated monkey cells (l...

While not delivering a knockout blow, the discovery of penicillin in 1928 provided a potent weapon in the fight against a wide range of bacterial infections. The quest to develop a similarly broad-spectrum drug to fight viral infections has proven more difficult but now researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory have designed a drug that has so far proven effective against all 15 viruses it has been tested on. These include rhinoviruses that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, a stomach virus, a polio virus, dengue fever and several other types of hemorrhagic fever.  Read More

A simple swine flu breath test is currently being developed to identify those already infe...

A simple swine flu breath test is currently being developed with the aim of preventing H1N1 vaccination shortages by identifying those already infected with the strain. A recent study in Glasgow, Scotland discovered that over 50 percent of the local residents vaccinated during the 2009 swine flu pandemic had already been infected with the virus. This ultimately means that they were vaccinated unnecessarily and although this would not have caused any added harm, it did expose health practitioners to the infectious virus whilst also wasting already limited supplies of the vaccine.  Read More

Colorized negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) depicting some of the ul...

Every year in the lead up to flu season, those at high risk of infection, such as the young, the elderly and those who are immune-compromised, head off to the doctor for a jab in the hopes it will protect them from the flu. However, influenza vaccines have a number of shortcomings that means even those who have been vaccinated may still get influenza. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute and Dutch biopharmaceutical company Crucell have now found a broadly acting antibody that could lead to a single, near-universal flu vaccine to replace annually changing vaccines.  Read More

Dissolving microneedle vaccines: cheaper, less painful, less dangerous and more effective ...

Doctors have been using hypodermic needles for more than 150 years – but syringe vaccinations could be just about to be replaced by a simple patch you can stick on your arm with no medical supervision. The microneedle patches have an array of microscopic needles on them that penetrate the skin just deep enough to dissolve and deliver a vaccine without causing any pain. There's no sharp hazardous waste left over, they're no more expensive than a syringe, and most importantly, tests on mice are showing that microneedle vaccinations are significantly longer-lasting than deeper injections delivered by syringe.  Read More

The swine flu virus

As recent scares with the avian and swine flu have so vividly reminded us, influenza can involve a lot more than just feeling lousy and throwing up. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 people die annually from the virus. We should be glad to hear, therefore, that researchers believe they are closing in on a cure for the flu. Scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered a component of the virus that may hold the secret to keeping it from being able to self-replicate.  Read More

Lab-on-a-chip device offers early detection of avian flu

October 31, 2007 Researchers in Singapore have successfully developed a miniaturized device that can be used to detect the highly pathogenic avian flu (H5N1) virus. If successfully commercialized, this device could be deployed in affected regions to provide early detection and circumvent the occurrence of an avian flu epidemic.  Read More

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