Every year there is talk about getting the seasonal influenza vaccine, which is a vaccine that causes antibodies to develop so our bodies can fight influenza viruses. People get the flu shot in hopes of avoiding weeks of sickness, but as this article mentions, the flu shot is typically less than fifty percent effective. Recently, researchers may have discovered a way to make the flu shot more effective.
Researchers in the UAB Department of Medicine's Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology were studying memory B cells, which are a type of immune cell in the lungs. Using a mouse model for experiments, the researchers infected the mice and discovered that after the influenza infection is acquired, the lungs have memory B cells in them. The article explains, "memory B cells "remember" a previous infection and are able to respond more quickly to a second infection by the same pathogen" (University of Alabama at Birmingham). In an experiment using parabiosis, one mouse of one strain of influenza was connected to a ouse with a different strain six weeks later. The mouse's memory B cells did not fight off the different strain of influenza. Overall, the experiments demonstrated that memory B cells are important to fighting off the influenza infection and are important components of our immunity.
More research will need to be done to see how these memory B cells can be incorporated into a flu shot to make them more effective. It can be speculated that a memory B cell for every possible strain would need to be in the shot, but just like we have recognized in the past, there could always be more strains discovered. I think it's very fascinating and amazing what technology and experiments scientists use, and how we can create vaccines to avoid severe illnesses.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Memory B cells in the lung may be important for more effective influenza vaccinations: Up to now, it has not been clear if these cells might be useful to combat influenza infections or even if they exist at all." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181205142705.htm>.
“Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Sept. 2018, www.cdc.gov/FLU/PROTECT/KEYFACTS.HTM.