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New Drugs Boosts Immunity to Phenomenal Levels in the Aged

Update Date: Nov 13, 2014 11:15 AM EST

In a breakthrough, researchers in UK have demonstrated an immune boosting technique which can help aged people fight infections effectively.

Oxford University researchers have shown the effectiveness of a compound called Spermidine in improving efficiency of vaccine shots in mice. The compound boosts immune system by promoting cell processes that help immune cells, called T cells, improve their infection memory, Daily Mail reported. The immune response tests were done with flu virus that kills nearly 5,000 people aged over 65 in the UK, but researchers believe the compound could be effective against other infections too.

"Viral infections like flu are unpleasant for most people but can be very serious for the over-65s, and vaccines, like the free annual flu jab, are the best form of protection. Our aim is to make that protection even better, by adding immune boosting compounds to routine vaccinations ' Professor Katja Simon senior study author said in a press release.

The cell process that researchers targeted with spermidine is autophagy which involves destroying defective and aged cell components. By boosting this process, researchers noted dramatic improvements in immune system responses of aged mice.

"The effect was so powerful that the treated mice mounted an even stronger T cell response to the vaccine than young mice. It's the equivalent of a 90 year old responding to a vaccine better than a 20 year old, which makes this a very exciting pathway to target as a potential way of boosting vaccine protection in the elderly," first author Daniel Puleston said.

Spermidine and similar compounds can be given either with another drug or offered as a jab before vaccination.

"We think that spermidine could be particularly useful alongside many of the vaccines currently in development that protect against other viruses. However, we expect it to be at least 5 to 10 years before a drug reaches the clinic," said Professor Simon.

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