Washington, Feb 28 : It may soon be possible to develop a better flu vaccine, thanks to a new finding by a scientist at University of Tennessee.
Mark Sangster, a professor of microbiology has uncovered information that may someday lead to a better flu vaccine.
Memory B cells are a sub-type of B cell that make antibodies against antigens, analysing the formation of these cells may help researchers to understand how to stimulate their production by vaccination.
The cells are created when the immune system retorts to infection, and act as a sort of "first responder," to the virus that triggered their creation.
"When we see how these cells are formed in response to a full-on infection of the flu, we get a picture of the gold standard of the immune response and protection," said Sangster.
Sangster has been studying as where the memory B cells reside after an infection of the flu, and how many are in each location.
"By knowing where these cells reside after an infection, we can learn what this means in how they may respond to subsequent exposure to the virus," said Sangster.
"It gives us a standard that we can use to evaluate and tailor how the body responds to vaccines."
During the study, the researcher also found that the memory B cells were present in high concentrations in the lungs that are not usually associated with an immune response.
"What we found is that the lungs are a complex and potentially very useful reservoir of immunological memory."
"With this understanding of memory B cell formation in response to a full-on infection, we have a model for vaccines in the response that they generate," he added.
The findings appear in this week's online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.