Annual vaccinations could be a thing of the past as scientists have successfully tested vaccines on animals infected with different strains of influenza
A universal flu vaccine that protects against multiple strains of the virus is a step closer after scientists created experimental jabs that work in animals. The vaccines prevented deaths or reduced symptoms in mice, ferrets and monkeys infected with different types of flu, raising hopes for a reliable alternative to the seasonal vaccine.
Doctors hope that a universal flu vaccine would do away with the need for people at risk to have flu jabs every year, and even protect the public from dangerous, potentially pandemic, strains that jump from birds or pigs into humans..
During the last flu season, mutations in the HA molecule on one of the most common circulating strains, H3N2, meant that the seasonal flu vaccine offered little protection. Public Health England said in February that the less effective vaccine was likely to have been behind a steep rise in flu deaths.
In two studies reported on Monday, separate research teams describe how they created novel flu vaccines that target the “stem” of the HA molecule instead of the head. The stem of the HA molecule is similar across different flu strains and mutates far less often. One of the teams, led by Barney Graham at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, created their vaccine by attaching part of a flu virus’s HA stem to tiny balls of protein. These protein nanoparticles kept the stem intact and made it easy for the immune system to spot once it was injected. In lab tests, one version of the vaccine completely protected mice and partially protected ferrets from injections of H5N1 bird flu virus, which was fatal in unvaccinated animals. The H5N1 flu strain has killed more than 400 people since 2003, most of whom caught the virus from infected poultry.
Read the full article via Universal flu vaccine a step closer as scientists create experimental jabs | Science | The Guardian.