You may have heard of interferon. It has been tossed around as a major player in many disease processes from mild infections to cancer and Hepatitis C. Now researchers at Ohio State University have uncovered another purpose for interferon — it may help hijack the flu virus.

Using mouse cells, researchers have been able to create a “natural” defense against the flu virus without the aid of a vaccine. The trick is increasing a particular level of cellular protein called interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) known to be effective against the flu. Manipulating this protein was found effective in mice with the virus.

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