Printable flu vaccine in the works - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Printable flu vaccine in the works

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(12/18/12) - A flu vaccine you can print on your home computer! It is just one of the new ways scientists are hoping to beat the virus.

About 20 percent of us will get the flu this season. You are contagious before you even know you are sick, but some of the brightest minds in science are looking for new ways to stop the flu.

Chemical engineer Tim Whitehead and a team of researchers from across the U.S. want to wipe it out. "And so this is a powerful new approach."

Using super computers, they're designing proteins from scratch, that are able to find a vulnerable portion of the virus that is in the most common strains and latch on.

The flu protein is separate from a vaccine and the idea is to administer it before or after an outbreak. Human testing will start in about five years.

In the lab, the protein's been tested in animal cells, Whitehead says, "in the presence of our protein, the cells aren't infected."

Meanwhile, wired.com reports, Craig Venter, who helped sequence the human genome, wants us all to be able to print flu vaccines. At a recent health conference, Venter said his team is working on digitizing vaccines that could be emailed, downloaded, printed from a special device and injected. From a logistical standpoint, it will probably be a long time before human trials with this invention begin.

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