MattMillerLab Page 03MIRC's newest faculty member is already making headlines. Assistant professor Matthew Miller is featured in this weeks FHS newsletter, in response to his latest research findings and interviews in The Hamilton SpectatorCBC Hamilton and CHML radio.

Read the full news article below.

One punch to knock out flu

The fact that this year’s flu shot is not a good match against this year’s influenza strain is well known, and has happened before. But now researchers at MIRC and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York say that a universal flu vaccine may be on the horizon, thanks to the recent discovery of a new class of antibodies that are capable of neutralizing a wide range of influenza A viruses.

“Unlike seasonal vaccines, which must be given annually, this type of vaccine would only be given once, and would have the ability to protect against all strains of flu, even when the virus mutates,” said Matthew Miller, an assistant professor in McMaster’s Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “This would prevent the occurrence of flu pandemics and poor vaccine efficiency in the case of mismatches, which actually occurred this year.”

In the study, published today in the Journal of Virology, senior author Miller and his colleagues show that when comparing the potency of an isolated strain-specific flu antibody (the type that current vaccines generate) with an isolated broadly-neutralizing flu antibody (the type generated by universal vaccines) in a lab setting, the latter have much weaker neutralization activity than the strain-specific antibodies.

Read more: MIRC researcher sees universal flu vaccine ahead

IL-4 has long been known to be a driver of intestinal Th2 priming in food allergy, however the source and control of this cytokine during initiation of type 2 immunity remains unclear.  This month, work done by the research group of Professor Manel Jordana at MIRC in collaboration with members of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute and the Department of Respiratory Inflammation and Autoimmunity at Medimmune was published in Mucosal Immunology. The paper by Chu et al. narrows down the key players in initiation and regulation of the allergic Th2 response. The researchers show that IL-4 required for oral sensitization to peanuts is CD4+ T cell-intrinsic, driven by OX40L co-stimulation. The autocrine/paracrine IL-4 signaling leads to stabilization of the Th2 state and is independent of innate lymphocytes including ILCs, as well as NKT and γδ T cells. We look forward to future work from the Jordana lab helping to solve the puzzle of oral sensitization and food allergy!

By Dessi Loukov

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