Researchers have found antibodies - the immune system's protective proteins - for H7N9 in people who had had the injection for seasonal flu.
The research and findings from the University of Chicago Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York was published online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
AdvertisementBird or avian flu virus emerged in China in 2013. While no pandemic has yet been seen, the threat of wider global spread is a worrying one. So the scientists looked to the regular seasonal vaccine, which produces antibodies against the flu virus, proteins that bind to the invading pathogen and neutralize it.
Patrick Wilson, PhD, co-senior author, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, concludes that protection could be developed from the annual injection against H7N9:
"We have clear evidence that a normal immune response to flu vaccination offers protection against dangerous and highly unique strains of influenza such as H7N9. We now need to develop ways of amplifying this response," he said.
The scientists tested 83 immune system antibodies from 28 people who received a seasonal flu vaccine. Of those antibodies, 7 percent reacted against rare H7 virus strains even though those strains were not specifically targeted by the seasonal flu vaccines.
He added that it's clear that seasonal flu vaccination provides protection against more than just common strains. "Everyone should be vaccinated," he said.