OMRF scientist secures grant to study possible way to improve flu vaccine

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 By: NewsOK Staff

An Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist, Dr. Jose Alberola-Ila, received a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to study a novel population of cells that appear to be protective against influenza.

The grant will provide Alberola-Ila with $2.69 million to investigate the role a type of white blood cell plays in mounting the body's response against flu infection. In preliminary experiments, Alberola-Ila found that laboratory mice with greater numbers of the cells were better protected from the virus.

“All the mice we looked at had the flu, but the ones with more of these cells lost less weight, got less sick and recovered faster,” Alberola-Ila said. “We don't yet know exactly why the mice responded the way they did, and that is exactly what this new grant will allow us to find out.” Alberola-Ila said if he and his OMRF research team are able to determine how these cells behave during an influenza infection, the research could provide new leads on ways to improve flu vaccines.

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