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Collaborative Success Stories: Baby Boon

Collaborative Success Stories: Baby Boon

University of Missouri researchers have discovered a promising approach to protecting young infants from flu.

Each year, influenza causes nearly a half million deaths worldwide. Those most vulnerable to contracting the disease are infants younger than six months, because their bodies do not respond to the vaccine in its current form.

Child health expert Michael Sherman and other MU researchers are working to protect these at-risk infants. The current u vaccine uses an additive called ALUM to stimulate a protein that protects against influenza infection, but it has no effect on the immune system of young infants. Sherman and his team augmented the vaccine with a protein called lactoferrin, a major protein in breast milk known to boost infants’ immune systems.

The researchers administered both versions of the vaccine to very young mice who were exposed to the H1N1 influenza virus. They discovered that lactoferrin offered the same level of protection as the ALUM-based vaccine.

The discovery is a promising step toward developing a u vaccination for vulnerable young babies and premature infants. In addition, Sherman’s research team recently found lactoferrin to be a safe and efficient solution to reducing hospital infections like pneumonia in premature infants.

Dr. Michael Sherman is professor emeritus in the Department of Child Health at MU’s School of Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine