Research is beginning at Montana State University that could lead to a radical new approach in the fight against influenza.

"We will be creating Therapeutic Interfering Particles (TIPs) of influenza: viruses that do good," said Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Connie Chang . "Basically, they are engineered defective viruses that kind of take advantage of functional viruses that steal resources from those (functional) viruses in order to replicate."

Chang says all of the particles used are naturally created by influenza itself, and are not genetically modified. The Defective Interfering Particles (called DIPS) may prove to have a huge advantage over the current vaccine model of fighting influenza.

"Right now, we have a yearly vaccination, that is kind of based upon a prediction of which strains of influenza will come out. If we are successful in this type of therapy, we hope that the Therapeutic Interfering Particles that we create will co-evolve with the actual virus influenza and keep pace and suppress the actual virus."

The research is using some new technology not often found on college campuses including next-generation sequencing which can do work at the particle level. Chang is a specialist in using drop-based microfluidics, a process which can house host cells and influenza in a drop of water the size of a human hair.

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