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Local media outlets report on influenza research at UMass Medical School

Search for improved influenza treatments, vaccines underway in the lab of Jennifer Wang

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

February 12, 2018
Jennifer Wang, MD
Jennifer Wang, MD

When she is not seeing patients during this year’s increasingly severe flu season, infectious disease and immunology physician-scientist Jennifer Wang, MD, and colleagues are searching for ways to better treat and prevent the virus.

Reporters for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Boston NBC-TV10, New England Cable News and Charter TV3 Worcester News Tonight joined Dr. Wang, associate professor of medicine, in the lab to learn more about the research.

“What we’re trying to do is understand the virus so people don’t get as sick,” Wang told NBC10’s Alysha Palumbo. “We look at mutations in the virus itself, and we look at how drugs like antivirals may influence the virus.”

The UMMS team is researching potential drug therapies that could more effectively treat the flu, reduce symptoms, boost the immune system and get around the problem of drug resistance.

“We have concerns that in the future epidemic or pandemic, that the virus may become resistant to Tamiflu, thus we want to have alternative treatments available,” Wang said on NBC-10.

In a clinical trial to test a combination treatment, Wang is comparing outcomes for patients hospitalized with severe influenza who receive standard therapy with the antiviral drug Tamiflu to those who are injected with blood plasma from individuals with boosted immunity in addition to Tamiflu.

“We’re seeing if treatment with a plasma from somebody who’s been boosted against influenza in advance can help curb symptoms,” she said.

Read and view the complete stories in the Telegram & Gazette, at NBC-TV10,  New England Cable News, and on Worcester News Tonight at Charter-TV3 (beginning at 1:32).


Related stories on UMassMedNow:
UMass Medical School physician-scientists’ research promises better flu prevention, treatment
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Predicting flu: UMass Medical School team developing tools for anticipating viral evolution
UMMS expert seeks better flu vaccines