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Sugar compound could help fighting flu

Armen Hareyan's picture

Flu Vaccine

Research has shown that a component of the natural sugars in plants could make flu vaccines up to 100 times more effective.

The head of the Diabetes and Endocrinology Department at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, has discovered that it can safely boost the effectiveness of commercial influenza vaccines.

He says the natural sugar helps stimulate the human immune system.

Professor Petrovsky says it has the potential to offer much higher protection against influenza-A and to extend vaccine supplies.

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"It actually only requires a much smaller does of vaccine, which means that vaccine supplies which currently can be quite stretched would go a lot further," he said.

"Hopefully everyone would be able to receive a vaccine, not just high risk groups."

The hospital is looking for people to trial a vaccine containing the substance.

"It could potentially be available within a year or two," Professor Petrovsky said.

"I think if we did face a flu pandemic then we'd be doing everything we can to see it made available immediately rather than to have to even wait that long."

Professor Petrovsky thinks it could work equally well in the avian flu vaccine.