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Research is essential to prepare for a pandemic. Research on flu viruses leads to a better understanding of how flu viruses spread and change over time. New ways to prevent and treat flu, including how to best use vaccines and antiviral medications, will come from this research.
General Research Activities
- Mapping Flu's Trek through Our Cells
Learn how the flu virus makes its way through our bodies in this National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) research.
- FDA Approves FluBlok: First Flu Vaccine Made Using Recombinant DNA Technology
On January 16, 2013, the FDA approved FluBlok, a novel flu vaccine made using recombinant DNA technology that does not involve using eggs or the actual influenza virus. FluBlok will be approved for use in adults 18-49 years-old.
- FDA Approves First Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Manufactured Using Cell Culture Technology
On November 19, 2012 the FDA announced the approval of Flucelvax, the first flu vaccine licensed in the U.S. produced using cultured animal cells, instead of fertilized chicken eggs. Flucelvax is approved to prevent seasonal flu in people ages 18 years and older.
- HHS Support Results in International Influenza Vaccine Milestone
Thailand has begun a phase 1 clinical trial to test an H5N1 avian, or bird, influenza vaccine in a needle-free, nasal spray form. This trial is a result of international collaboration with health agencies around the world, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). This is the first step in testing the new vaccine in humans. The study and data analysis is expected to be complete by May 2013.
- Clinical Trial of HHS-Supported Flu Vaccine Begins in Vietnam
Vietnam has begun a phase 1 clinical trial for the first H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine developed entirely in Vietnam with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). This is the first step in testing the new vaccine in humans. The study and data analysis is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.
- FDA Approves First Quadrivalent Vaccine to Prevent Seasonal Influenza
FluMist Quadrivalent, a vaccine to prevent seasonal flu, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is the first flu vaccine to contain four strains of the influenza virus, two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.
- NIH Experts Describe Influenza Vaccines of the Future
Licensed seasonal flu vaccines’ effectiveness depends on how well the viruses included in the vaccine match the viruses circulating that year. Scientists supported by NIAID are working to develop new technologies and vaccines to better protect people from flu viruses.
- NIH Scientists Advance Universal Flu Vaccine
These NIAID experiments tested a two-step approach to giving flu vaccines.
- Initiative for Vaccine Research
The World Health Organization's (WHO) initiative for vaccine research guides, supports, and facilitates the development, clinical evaluation, and world-wide access to safe, effective, and affordable vaccines against infectious diseases.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Face Mask Use and Control of Respiratory Virus Transmission in Households
This Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study concluded that people rarely use face masks to prevent seasonal flu. However, face masks are recommended in a flu pandemic.
- NIAID Scientists Propose New Explanation for Flu Virus Antigenic Drift
This NIAID study predicts that vaccinating children against the flu could slow the rate of flu virus mutations. It could also extend a seasonal flu vaccine’s effectiveness.
- Questions and Answers: EID article "Estimates of the Prevalence of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, United States, April-July 2009"
In this CDC study, researchers estimate there were 1.8 to 5.7 million H1N1 cases from April – July 2009, although only 43,677 were confirmed.
- Models of Infectious Disease Agents Study (MIDAS)
These National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) studies report preliminary findings on the origin, infectiousness, and likely spread of the 2009 H1N1 virus.
Learning from the Past
- New Study Re-examines Bacterial Vaccine Studies Conducted During 1918 Influenza Pandemic
This NIAID study found that secondary infections, such as pneumonia, were a major cause of death during the 1918 flu pandemic.
- Dynasty: Influenza Virus in 1918 and Today
NIAID researchers found that all human-adapted influenza A viruses of today — both seasonal flu and pandemic — are descendents, direct or indirect, of the 1918 virus.
- Early Pandemic Flu Wave May Protect Against Worse One Later
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that evidence from the 1918 flu pandemic shows that getting the flu early protected many people against a second deadlier wave.
- Interregional Spread of Influenza Through United States Described by Virus Type, Size of Population and Commuting Rates and Distance
NIH researchers found that people are most likely to get the flu in their day-to-day lives.
- Influenza Technologies Available for Product Development
Each year, hundreds of new inventions are developed in NIH and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratories. This NIH Office of Technology Transfer database provides a list of inventions available for further research and development.
H1N1 (Swine Flu) Specific Research
- A Single Base-Pair Change in 2009 H1N1 Hemagglutinin Increases Human Receptor Affinity and Leads to Efficient Airborne Viral Transmission in Ferrets (PloS One)
- NIH Study Models H1N1 Flu Spread (NIH)
- NIH-Funded Scientists Find 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Protects Mice from 1918 Influenza Virus (NIAID)
- Clinical Aspects of Pandemic 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection (New England Journal of Medicine)
- The Severity of Pandemic H1N1 Influenza in the United States, from April to July 2009: A Bayesian Analysis (PLoS One)
- Questions and Answers: EID article "Estimates of the Prevalence of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009, United States, April-July 2009" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Studies in Animals Suggest 2009 H1N1 Virus May Have Biological Advantage Over Seasonal Influenza Viruses (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
- Transmission and Pathogenesis of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Viruses in Ferrets and Mice (Science)
- Pathogenesis and Transmission of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Virus in Ferrets (Science)
- Emergence of a Novel Swine-Origin Influenza A(H1N1) Virus in Humans (The New England Journal of Medicine)
H5N1 (Avian Flu) Specific Research
H5N1: Virus Research
- Human Antibodies Protect Mice from Avian Flu (National Institutes of Health)
H5N1: Learning from the Past
- Scientists Isolate Genes that Made 1918 Flu Lethal
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers identified a set of three genes that helped underpin the extraordinary virulence of the 1918 virus.
- Bacterial Pneumonia Caused Most Deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic
This NIH study found that the majority of deaths during the 1918 flu pandemic were caused by pneumonia.
- Questions and Answers: Reconstruction of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus
This CDC research pieces together the virus responsible for the 1918 pandemic flu to guide preparation for future flu pandemics.