From: Anna Vlasits for Wired
Published June 27, 2017 10:08 AM

The Clue to Next Years Flu Strain Could be Inside You

Sometimes, a little snot goes a long way. And not just in the physical, stretchy sense. Today, some decade-old snot collected from the sinuses of cancer patients revealed a new technique to forecast how flu evolves.

Every winter, scientists try to predict which flus will be prominent during the following season. While the infection is simply a pesky use of sick days for some, it also causes millions of hospitalizations and hundreds of thousands of deaths annually. So to shore up prevention for the next year, the World Health Organization releases its predictions—based on global flu monitoring and animal studies to test the limits of herd immunity—to vaccine-makers. (Next year’s flu, FYI, is supposed to be an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.)

But the methods aren’t perfect, because the flu is constantly evolving, and fast. So scientists have been trying to find better ways to predict flu strains by studying their evolution. Enter that really old snot. Or, more precisely, sinus fluid collected from four cancer patients back in 2006 and 2007. It’s the main player in a paper published today in Elife.

Read more at Wired 

Photo credit: Whoisjohngalt via Wikimedia Commons

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