Who would have ever thought that the “teary” onion can turn sweet. Our eyes may not stop watering, but a recent study revealed that onions, chicory root and garlic contain natural sugar that may help make influenza vaccine ten times more powerful that what it is now.
Australian researchers said they have completed the first round of studies, after a decade long research, and are on the verge of starting the second round using this natural substance.
The influenza vaccine is a vaccine used yearly to protect against the extremely variable influenza virus, which can lead to severe complications. Getting the flu shot before the flu season is said to give the body a chance to build up immunity and protect from the virus.
The influenza epidemic emerges during the flu season and an estimated 36000 people die every year from influenza in the United States alone.
People who wish to reduce the chances of getting influenza can get this vaccination. It is recommended that all high risk groups be vaccinated, which includes children from six months of age up to the age of 18 years, people aged 65 years or older, people with serious chronic health problems such as diabetes, kidney disease, cancer as well as health care workers.
The flu shot has killed flu viruses which will not cause flu but will prepare the body to fight infection by the live flu virus. Getting a shot of the killed virus means a person is protected against that particular type of live flu virus if they come in contact with it.
The new vaccine uses natural plant sugar that titillates production of antibodies in response to the antigen contained in the vaccine. Scientists are of the opinion that the potency of the vaccine combined with the capacity for mass production may be the best bet to combat flu.
According to Nikolai Petrovsky, the Director of diabetes and endocrinology at Flinders Medical Center in Adelaide, scientists plan to test the vaccine-booster, or adjuvant, in a seasonal flu vaccine trial, that involves about thousand elderly and chronically diseased patients this year.
He said, “If we were to be confronted with an influenza pandemonic, this could be the difference.” “If it works I think it certainly has the potential to revolutionize the approach to flu vaccinations worldwide. Any technology that could stretch the manufacturing capacity would have an enormous impact. It would be very easy to implement and very cost-effective, and yet gives a dramatic boost to the effectiveness of existing vaccines.”
He also explained that plant sugar worked in a similar manner to vaccines and proved to be effective during the human trial conducted for Hepatitis B.
He said that the adjuvant, known as Advax and derived from a sugar called inulin, may increase the potency of a vaccine, enough for a ten-fold reduction in the antigen dose required.
Scientists are in the last lap of the testing phase after having completed their tests on healthy people. Nikolai Petrovsky said, “In a trial of 200 health volunteers last year we were able to demonstrate that the enhanced vaccine was not only safe and well tolerated, but also very effective in terms of improving the ability of the vaccine to induce immunity towards the flu virus.”
The current study with 1000 volunteers is said to be the largest ever single trial in the world to test the immunity in the elderly and people with chronic disease. The targets of this study will be healthy people aged above 60, people with heart disease, kidney disease and chronic lung disease.
We will have to wait and see what the outcome of these tests will be, as the results are expected to be out only by October and the vaccination is expected to hit the market in two years time.