The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said real-time monitoring offers a promising tool for studying the progression of influenza and other diseases.
Researchers from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) infected mice with a "reporter" virus that had been developed in collaboration with University of Wisconsin researchers, an NIH release said. This virus was applied either three days before or after the mice had been immunized with an influenza vaccine or treated with anti-influenza antibodies.
The reporter virus was designed with a luminescent gene. Researchers injected the infected mice with a substance that would recognize the "lit up" gene to allow them to monitor the infection with an optical imaging system.
The real time tracking allowed researchers to determine the effectiveness of the experimental vaccines and antibodies. This possible alternative to traditional assessment methods is faster and uses fewer animals to find a valid statistical comparison, the release said.
Live imaging systems are a non-invasive method of tracking and monitoring viruses, bacteria, cells and genes. These systems can help locate hidden viruses and bacteria. Cancer researchers can use the real time tracking to monitor tumor growth.