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Swine flu and laser treatment

Problem

Influenza A (H1N1) is an RNA virus that was first discovered in 1931. The H1N1 virus pandemic was responsible for 7,280 deaths in 2009. Colloquially referred to as the “swine flu,” this new strain was caused by the reassortment of bird, swine, and human virus genetic material. The combined nature of the 2009 strain caused suffering patients to be less responsive to contemporary vaccinations and medical techniques. Symptoms of the virus include headache, coughing, fever, sore throat, and muscle pain.
Although the strain in question was eventually contained, scientists concluded that more efficient methods of combating H1N1 were necessary. It was considered economically favorable to develop methods of increasing the efficacy of current medications that are already stockpiled, as opposed to creating additional costly vaccines.
To this end, researchers turned to a technique used in cosmetic dermatology referred to as nonablative fractional laser (NAFL) treatment. Laser light is used to lightly damage skin, creating a microthermal zone (MTZ) of 200 by 300 micrometers. Limiting the area of damage allows epithelial cells to quickly grow over the MTZ, providing the skin a healthier appearance. Researchers used this laser treatment as an adjuvant, or a treatment that enhances immune response to vaccine antigens.
Figure 1: A diagram of NAFL treatment. Prior to inoculation, the injection site is exposed to laser light for a short time period.
In one study, the efficacy of NAFL was compared to AddaVax, an oil-based drug currently available on the market. Laboratory mice were divided into three groups. The control group received only the H1N1 vaccine, another group received a combination of the vaccine and NAFL, and the final group received a combination of AddaVax and the vaccine.
After a brief inoculation period, serum Immunoglobulin G levels were tested for each group (Figure 2). This was followed by a test for interleukin-6 levels, a cytokine involved in fever and inflammation mediation (Figure 3). Finally, the average temperature of each group was recorded over a 10-hour time frame (Figure 4).
Figure 2: Immunoglobulin G levels of each group after inoculation.
Figure 3: Interleukin-6 levels of each group over a two-day period.
Figure 4: Body temperature monitored over 10 hours. All temperatures were normalized to non-immunized mice, as indicated by the relative temperature.
Sources: Wang, J. Shah, D.Chen, X. Anderson, R. Wu, M. (2014). A micro-sterile inflammation array as an adjuvant for influenza vaccines. Nature Communications, 5. Nonablative (2014). Nonablative Laser Light Increases Influenza Vaccine Response 4 to 7-fold. Neomatica. Retrieved from http://www.neomatica.com/2014/07/28/nonablative-laser-light-increases-influenza-vaccine-response-4-7-fold/
What substance might be upregulated in the body in response to H1N1?
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