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J Biomed Biotechnol. 2010;2010:863985. doi: 10.1155/2010/863985. Epub 2010 May 24.

Controlling influenza by cytotoxic T-cells: calling for help from destroyers.

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Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, VIB, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.


Influenza is a vaccine preventable disease that causes severe illness and excess mortality in humans. Licensed influenza vaccines induce humoral immunity and protect against strains that antigenically match the major antigenic components of the vaccine, but much less against antigenically diverse influenza strains. A vaccine that protects against different influenza viruses belonging to the same subtype or even against viruses belonging to more than one subtype would be a major advance in our battle against influenza. Heterosubtypic immunity could be obtained by cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) responses against conserved influenza virus epitopes. The molecular mechanisms involved in inducing protective CTL responses are discussed here. We also focus on CTL vaccine design and point to the importance of immune-related databases and immunoinformatics tools in the quest for new vaccine candidates. Some techniques for analysis of T-cell responses are also highlighted, as they allow estimation of cellular immune responses induced by vaccine preparations and can provide correlates of protection.

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