Imagine a A single dose of vaccine is all that’s required to prepare your body for the next stage. to fight every known strain of influenza — a So-called universal flu vaccine, scientists have been trying to create for decades.
This is what a new study shows: successful animal testing a This vaccine offers hope that the country could be protected against future influenza pandemics. The experimental flu vaccine, which is based on mRNA, is similar to the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech Covid vaccines.
It is in early stages — tested only in mice and ferrets — but the vaccine provides important proof that a A single shot could be used to kill a whole family of viruses. The vaccine could also be used against coronavirus and other viruses if it is successful in humans.
Although the vaccine wouldn’t replace annual flu shots, it would be a useful addition to your arsenal. a Protection against potential pandemic risks and severe diseases
“There’s a real need for new influenza vaccines to provide protection against pandemic threats that are out there,” Scott Hensley (an immunologist at Penn State University who was responsible for the research) said that.
“If there’s a new influenza pandemic tomorrow, if we had a vaccine like this that was widely employed before that pandemic, we might not have to shut everything down,” He said. He and his coworkers agreed. described the vaccine Science last week
By the age of 5, most children have been infected with the flu multiple times and have gained some immunity — but only against the strains they have encountered.
“Our childhood exposures to influenza lay down long-lived immune memory that can be recalled later in life,” Dr. Hensley. But “we’re sort of living the rest of our life dependent on the random chance of whatever we got infected with as a kid.”
The current flu vaccines provide protection against seasonal flu but not against it. a New strains may be emerging a Pandemic threat. The conventional vaccine was not effective against the virus during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Older adults who were exposed to the virus had a better chance. to Childhood H1N1 infections caused only mild symptoms.
Scientists have been trying for years to Create a A vaccine that would allow children to be born to They will be exposed to every strain of flu that they come across in their lives. However, researchers are limited by technical difficulties and by the complexity of the flu virus.
In general, there are 20 influenza subgroups. Each of these groups can contain thousands of viruses. The current vaccines only target four subgroups. However, the experimental vaccine includes all 20, so it will be quicker to produce.
The vaccine produced high levels of antibodies to all 20 flu subtypes in ferrets and mice, the researchers found — a Many experts thought it was unexpected and very promising.
If the vaccine behaves similarly in humans, “we’ll have a more broad coverage of influenza viruses — not only those that are circulating, but those that might spill over from the animal reservoir that might cause the next pandemic,” Alyson Kelvin a Vaccinologist at University of Saskatchewan in Canada
It is possible to pack 20 targets into one vaccine. a Negative: The levels of antibodies found in test animals was lower than when they received vaccines specific to individual strains. The levels were nevertheless high enough to be effective against influenza.
Because a Researchers also tested the vaccine against viruses that were not perfectly matched to ensure it was effective against new strains of influenza. It provided strong protection and prevented severe illness. a novel pandemic flu virus.
This phenomenon is very similar to to That is what the Covid vaccines do with current Omicron variants. Although they are so different to the ancestral virus, the vaccine continues to help safeguard most people against severe illness.
This quality could be a Dr. Kelvin stated that mRNA vaccines have a particular advantage. Conventional flu vaccines are only effective against the viruses they are made for. But mRNA vaccines seem to Antibodies that protect the body from infection are produced. a There are many more viruses than the ones listed.
Experts pointed out some important points and questions that need to be answered before the vaccine is approved. a A viable candidate
The study animals had equal defenses against all flu strains. But “these animals have not seen flu before,” said Richard J. Webby, an expert in influenza viruses at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
This is an example a Dr. Webby stated that children under the age of five are not immune to flu. Older people are more susceptible to many different strains over their lifetimes, and it’s not clear whether their immune responses to a Universal vaccines would be uniform.
“The proof of the pudding will be what happens when it goes into humans and how going into a preimmune population skews the response to it,” Dr. Webby spoke.
If necessary, universal vaccines could be designed for different age groups. a challenge. It would also prove to be vital. to See how long you can get protection from this! a Some experts say vaccine lasts.
“The biggest issue about universal flu is what you need to target and how long you can continue to use the same vaccine,” Ted Ross, Global Vaccine Development director at the Cleveland Clinic, stated. “If you have to keep updating it, it may not increase the advantage of how we do vaccines today.”
Next, the vaccine would need to be tested. to It can be tested in monkeys as well as in humans. It might not be easy to prove its effectiveness. “How do you evaluate and regulate a vaccine where their targets aren’t circulating, and so you can’t really show effectiveness?” Dr. Kelvin stated.
She suggested that the vaccine might be tested in small, sporadic cases or on poultry workers at risk of contracting an avian influenza virus. “Those are questions that I think we need to answer before we have our next pandemic.”