University of Wisconsin–Madison

The End of Influenza?

Scientists at the School of Veterinary Medicine are breaking away from traditional thinking on how we prevent influenza with a much different approach, and it could have big implications for treatment options for this disease, which kills as many as 500,000 people each year.

Influenza viruses are sneaky—infiltrating cells, feeding off what’s inside to grow and multiply. Most vaccines try to kill the virus itself, but years of evolution have resulted in resistant flu viruses—a scary phenomenon.

The approach taken by our team focuses on proteins within the host cells—proteins a virus needs to survive. Carefully studying these proteins to see which offer the most value to the virus and the least value to the host is the key. They’ve narrowed their research down to 20 key proteins, which if successfully silenced, could spell the end of infectious influenza as we know it.

This outside-the-box thinking demonstrates one more way the School of Veterinary Medicine is transforming the future of human health.