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Saarland University - Quick determination of the status of an infection with an influenza virus type

Organization name

PVA Saarland



Within a year's normal two flu seasons there are between three and five million cases of severe illness and up to 500,000 deaths worldwide, which by some definitions is a yearly influenza epidemic. In April 2009 the latest outbreak evolved by a novel flu strain known as influenza A/H1N1 and was officially declared to be a pandemic by the WHO. In the United States, the federal government approved the swine flu vaccine for production in April 2009 and estimated that 120 million doses of swine flu vaccine would be ready for the public by mid-October. Only about 10% of the expected doses were ready for injection in late October as the production was delayed.

In order to save vaccine it is necessary to test for a pre-existing immunity. Prior to vaccination it is also desirable to know if a patient is already infected and if the patient is infected by “normal” influenza viruses or e.g. H5N1.


Inventors of the medical faculty of Saarland University established a novel strategy for the detection of an acute influenza. The test system can discriminate T cell immunity induced by an acute encounter of influenza viruses from lasting T cell immunity after earlier infections or preceding vaccinations and may help to guide antiviral therapy. The test system can be performed out of whole blood, following a multi-dimensional T cell immunomonitoring of cytokine profiles after specific antigen stimulation. The processing time is only 8 hours.


  • Differentiation between vaccination response, earlier infection and acute infection
  • In vitro whole-blood stimulation assay
  • Very fast (8 hours) and reliable test system
  • Vaccine can be used as stimulating antigen
  • First evaluation of the assay took place in a clinical setting

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