How Close Are Scientists To Finding A Life-Long Flu Vaccine?

Flu vaccine

Photo: Morguefile

With fall around the corner, we will all start to see those pop-up signs at our local pharmacy: "Flu Shots Here." Unfortunately, a flu shot/vaccine does not guarantee your protection all fall/winter and even spring/summer long. There are thousands of different strains of flu that have the capability of mutating. But good news could be right around the corner.

According to reports and studies in Nature Medicine, two teams of researchers have created vaccines that lay the foundation for long-lasting protection.

As published in Nature Medicine: Vaccination of mice and ferrets with H1–SS–np elicited broadly cross-reactive antibodies that completely protected mice and partially protected ferrets against lethal heterosubtypic H5N1 influenza virus challenge despite the absence of detectable H5N1 neutralizing activity in vitro. Passive transfer of immunoglobulin from H1–SS–np–immunized mice to naive mice conferred protection against H5N1 challenge, indicating that vaccine-elicited HA stem–specific antibodies can protect against diverse group 1 influenza strains.

In layman's terms, they introduced a combination of mutations to stabilize the core of the hemagglutinin stem.

Ian Wilson, co-author on the Sciencepaper and a structural and computational biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California said in Science Magazine, “It’s a promising first step, and it’s very exciting to see this research come to fruition.”

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