There is a connection between age and susceptibility to the influenza virus. It can't be explained by frailty in general, because it is not obvious that very small children and the very old are the biggest risk groups. In a study of the connection between age and the risk of suffering from the flu, Timpka and his colleagues show that the 2009 swine flu affected age groups 10-19 and 20-29 the worst. They studied how five different influenza epidemics struck in OstergĂ tland County of East Sweden between 2005 and 2010. Except for the swine flu, they were all what are known as seasonal flu. The difference in those taken sick among age groups varies up to ten times in certain cases, they state, for example, with swine flu. 2.3 cases per thousand inhabitants were diagnosed in the 10-19 age group, compared with 0.
The full clinical study reports that drugs that have been authorized for use in patients should be made publicly available in order to allow independent re-analysis of the benefits and risks of such drugs, according to leading international experts who base their assertions on their experience with Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Tamiflu is classed by the World Health Organization as an essential drug and many countries have stockpiled the anti-influenza drug at great expense to taxpayers. But a recent Cochrane review on Tamiflu has shown that even more than ten thousand pages of regulatory evidence were not sufficient to clarify major discrepancies regarding the effects and mode of action of the drug. Writing in this week's PLoS Medicine, Peter Doshi from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA, Tom Jefferson from the Cochrane Collaboration in Rome, Italy, and Chris Del Mar from Bond University in the Gold Coast, Australia say that there are strong ethical arguments for ensuring that all clinical study reports are publicly accessible.
An intranasal vaccine that includes four weakened strains of influenza could do a better job in protecting children from the flu than current vaccines, Saint Louis University research shows. Before each influenza season, scientists predict which strains of flu will be circulating and make a trivalent vaccine that includes three strains of influenza -- two of influenza A and one of influenza B. The ability to add another strain of influenza B without compromising the vaccine's ability to protect against the other three strains will allow scientists make a better vaccine, said Robert Belshe, M.D., professor of infectious diseases at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the corresponding author of the research article. "The bottom line is adding another strain to make a quadrivalent vaccine improves our ability to protect against flu and doesn't reduce the body's immune response to the other strains, " said Belshe, who also directs Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have identified a number of tiny but powerful "genetic regulators" that are hijacked by avian and swine flu viruses during human infection. The discovery, published in the Journal of Virology, could reveal new targets for broad-spectrum antivirals to combat current - and perhaps future - strains of influenza A viruses. The study is the first to compare the role played by human microRNAs - small molecules that control the expression of multiple genes - in the life cycle of two viruses of continued concern to public health officials around the world. "We know that microRNAs are implicated in many types of cancers and other human diseases, but focusing on microRNA signatures in viral infection breaks new ground, " says FranĂ ois Jean, Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Scientific Director of the Facility for Infectious Disease and Epidemic Research (FINDER) at UBC.
A sudden increase in narcolepsy in Finnish children at the beginning of 2010 was likely related to the Pandemrix vaccine used in response to the H1N1 2009 flu pandemic, according to two reports published in the open access journal PLoS ONE. The authors of the studies, led by Markku Partinen of the Helsinki Sleep Clinic and Hanna Nohynek of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, found that the average annual incidence of narcolepsy between 2002 and 2009 among children younger than 17 was 0.31 per 100, 000, and in 2010, this incidence was about 17 times higher, at 5.3 cases per 100, 000. In contrast, the incidence rate for adults over 20 was essentially unchanged over that same time period. To further evaluate the potential connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy, the researchers collected vaccination and childhood narcolepsy data for children born between January 1991 and December 2005.