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Iowa researchers seek to tackle flu using nanoparticles


Researchers from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are working together to develop and test what they think could be a better way to fight the flu, according to an ISU News Service article. The researchers, each affiliated with Iowa State’s Nanovaccine Institute, are developing a nasal spray that incorporates nanoparticles loaded with synthesized influenza proteins designed to activate immune cells in a person’s upper and lower airways. The nanoparticles are quite small — about 300-billionths of a meter across — and are made from biodegradable polymers. The flu nanovaccine drives B cell as well as T cell activity, said Kevin Legge, an associate professor of pathology at University of Iowa who is leading the study. The T cells fight disease by attacking cells that have been infected by a virus; activating both types of cells provides a greater level of protection, the researchers have found. The National Institutes of Health is supporting the study of a flu nanovaccine with a five-year, $2.8 million grant. “What we’re doing is a completely new approach,” said Thomas Waldschmidt, associate director of the Nanovaccine Institute and a professor of pathology at Iowa. “This is a completely different ball game.”

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