National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists believe real-time imaging of influenza infection can quickly monitor disease progression in mice and can assess effectiveness of vaccine candidates, Medical News Today reports.

A group from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) evaluated the live imaging system as a potential alternative to traditional methods of assessing investigative influenza vaccines and treatment in mice, which can be time consuming and require more study animals for valid statistical comparison.

For the current study, the NIAID scientists infected mice with a “reporter” virus after the mice had been immunized against influenza or treated with anti-influenza antibodies either before or three days after infection.

The group used the imaging system to assess how well the experimental vaccines and antibodies protected the mice from infection and to differentiate between the interventions used, providing clues about how these prevention strategies conferred protection.