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SLU researchers recommend adding new strain to flu vaccine


By Veronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO. – Researchers at Saint Louis University say flu vaccines would work better if they included two strains of influenza B virus.

Current vaccines include two types of influenza A, but only one of influenza B.

Dr. Robert Belshe, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at SLU, says that since the late 1980s, the influenza B virus has evolved into two different strains.

Every year, vaccine developers try to predict which one will circulate, and put that strain into the vaccine.

"But in five of the last ten years, we were wrong, and guessed wrong, and so you might as well just flip a coin at picking what strain of influenza B to put in the vaccine," Belshe said.

He says a vaccine with both strains of influenza B should provide better protection against the flu; particularly for children, who are more at risk from the B form of the virus.

Belshe says a vaccine with both strains of influenza B has already been tested in animals.

The next step will be to conduct clinical trials in people.