Univ. of Iowa Testing Vaccine for Deadly Flu Strain

By Brady Smith, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are moving forward with testing of a vaccine for a potentially deadly strain of influenza that killed dozens of people in China earlier this year.

Experts with the University say the H7N9 strain was transmitted to people in China from birds, and because the infection had a high mortality rate, immediate testing of a vaccine is critical. Dr. Pat Winokur said Tuesday that the H7N9 strain is one that the human immune system isn’t used to seeing, so the immune response to fighting the bug is much lower than with other strains. For this reason, Dr. Winokur explained that the vaccine may have to be combined with adjuvants, which are compounds that help boost immune system response.

Though H7N9 still appears to primarily affect people living in proximity to birds and one another, researchers believe there is a chance that it could develop the ability for quick transmission from one person to another.

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