Aside from being effective in mice, the formulated vaccine also showed promising results for monkeys as the species developed significant amounts of antibodies that alleviated its fever after an H1N1 infection, which contrary to bird flu, is highly communicable but less fatal.
The next step for the vaccine prototypes would be human clinical trials, a process that could take several years.
Last year, the CDC announced the vaccine was not fully effective in protecting the community against all strains of influenza.
The most recent seasonal flu vaccine offered little protection, due to the mutations of the HA.
“If the body can make an immune response against the HA stem, it’s hard for the virus to escape”, Wilson said.
It seems that this particular region called the HA molecule’s stem is not prone to change, while all flu A viruses exhibit it. This could only mean that, provided the stem is primarily targeted by the vaccine, immunity could be raised for many types of viruses concomitantly.
Other scientists not involved in the studies described them as a major step towards a universal vaccine, but cautioned that a lot of work has to be done, possibly over many years, before a vaccine can be tested on humans.
The antibodies could even neutralize H5NA viruses.
Two groups of researchers – from the National Instutites of Health, and the Crucell Vaccine Institute are reporting their findings today in the journals Nature Medicine and Science, detailing how they’ve transformed a piece of flu virus protein to protect against a whole slew of flu strains. Seasonal flu vaccines work by targeting the head of the HA protein. The current flu vaccine has to be administered every year since it focuses on the mutating part of the virus.
One study was by Johnson & Johnson, while the other was by Scripps Research Institute and J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit. Now, two separate researches have emerged claiming that the formulation of a vaccine that can fight against multiple flu strains over an extended time is slowly nearing its possibility.
The seasons haven’t changed yet, but it’s already time to start thinking about your flu shot for this upcoming influenza season. The mutated virus can infect cells, express the entire spectrum of influenza RNA and proteins, yet fails to produce any infectious virus particles.
FluGen Inc., a Madison biotechnology company that is developing flu vaccines, said Tuesday it has raised $12 million in a funding round led by some of the state’s largest investors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that for the 30-year period 1976 through 2006, up to 49,000 people in the US died from flu.
Could We Get A Universal Flu Vaccine?