Study examining how flu impacts children’s immune systems seeks participants

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Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s (MCRI) Infection and Immunity Leader, Associate Professor Nigel Crawford said most children have had the flu by the time they are five, but little is understood about how the virus interacts with a child’s immune system and affects subsequent responses to influenza vaccine.

“New research from the US has found that the influenza virus can reprogram a child’s immune system for future flu exposure, but the impact varies depending on which strain of flu you get as a child,” he said.

“We need to learn more about how children’s immune systems respond to the flu because this can also shape how we react to flu vaccines as adults.”

For the study, researchers will work closely with scientists at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

MCRI will also work closely with Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital Westmead in Sydney.

“The chief aim of the study is to assist in the creation of a more effective universal influenza vaccine,” University of Melbourne Professor Kanta Subbarao from the Doherty Institute said. “We are hoping to recruit 40-50 subjects in this first year of the study with an additional 10 children next year.”

To be eligible for the study children must not have had this year’s flu vaccine and age aged between six months to five years of age. Participating children will receive the influenza vaccine and have three blood tests this year, and the next year.

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