Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Wellington children part of global vaccine research

Mothers and infants in the Wellington region are set to play an important role in global research to develop a universal flu vaccine.

ESR researchers are currently seeking pregnant women in Wellington to participate in the study to see how their child’s first exposure to the flu virus, influences their immune response throughout life.

The “WellKiwis” study aims to monitor flu and flu-like illness in 600 Wellington children for seven years through to March 2026.

Mothers and infants in the Wellington region will be joining groups in Nicaragua, and United States as part of an international collaboration being led by St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

ESR’s National Influenza Centre has been selected by the US National Institutes of Health for the US$3.2 million research project.

Principal Investigator, ESR’s Dr Sue Huang says the purpose of WellKiwis is to provide information to enable scientists and researchers to develop more effective and longer lasting vaccines to prevent flu for our future populations.

“We have seen increasing scientific reports showing how the human immune system is primed by its first exposure to flu in childhood. Unravelling the codes of this childhood imprinting may allow us to identify those imprints that ‘memorise’ certain flu viruses which change little and differ little between flu strains.”

Flu, unlike a common cold, is a serious illness affecting hundreds and thousands of people globally. In New Zealand, young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to its infection.

Dr Sue Huang says this information gathered in the study may help in the development of a universal vaccine.

“We could produce broadly reactive and longer lasting antibodies to protect a population against multiple flu strains (including new pandemic strains). This would mean a vaccine shot once every three to five years rather than annually.”

WellKiwis study staff will monitor a child’s flu-like illness for seven years through regular surveys.

Over the course of the study, a once-only baseline cord blood sample from the birth mother and an annual blood sample will be collected from each child.

Additional samples will be needed if a child has a flu virus infection or flu vaccine.

“This study is important, as it adds to the scientific knowledge about the body’s immune responses to the flu in early childhood” says Dr Huang.

ESR aims to recruit 200 babies per year, for the next three years.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Reserve Bank: Official Cash Rate Unchanged At 1 Percent

The Monetary Policy Committee has decided to keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 1.0 percent. Employment remains around its maximum sustainable level while inflation remains below the 2 percent target mid-point but within our target range... More>>

ALSO:

Food Prices: Avocados At Lowest Price In Almost Three Years

Avocados are at their cheapest average price since February 2017, with tomato, lettuce, and cucumber prices also falling, Stats NZ said today. More>>

Auckland Port Move: Cabinet Ministers Deliberate On Report

Cabinet ministers now have a copy of a report urging the government to move the Auckland port up north, but say no final decisions have been made. More>>

ALSO:

Toxicology Tests Planned: Dead Rats Washed Up On Beaches

As many as 600 rats washed up on Westport's North Beach over the weekend to the horror of locals. DOC said they may have been killed by a recent 1080 poison drop 140km away and washed down the Buller River after heavy rain battered the coast. More>>

ALSO: