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USD Doctor Works For Better Flu Vaccines

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Dr. Victor Huber is trying to fight a flu virus that has thousands throughout the country bedridden and in the hospital.

The virus H3N2 usually consists of 12 proteins. The two that the flu vaccine fights are the H3 and the N2, Dr. Huber is trying to better understand the other proteins that can cause secondary, sometimes fatal infections.

“Which is what ultimately kills people with influenza infections,” said Dr. Huber.  

Huber and his students will study the influenza strand that effects humans as well as pigs.

“What we study are how the proteins on the inside can effect the severity of the disease,” said Dr. Huber.

And there's a couple of different ways he does that.

“A sub-lethal dose of the influenza virus followed by a sub-lethal dose of a bacteria. So where you would predict neither the virus nor the bacteria alone would be lethal then when you get them together and sequence them about a week apart, it can be a lethal interaction,” said Dr. Huber.  

The University of South Dakota researcher says while the secondary infections are something to pay attention to, he believes this year's vaccine is an appropriate match for the virus.   

And Huber hopes the work that he's doing will be able to make vaccines in the future fight secondary infections better.

“Part of our research would be try to identify how to deal novel targets for identifying preventing and limiting these severe secondary bacterial infections, identifying viral targets and then proteins expressed by the host,” said Dr. Huber.

While Huber's work won't change this year’s influenza virus he hopes it can make a difference down the road.
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