Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and Dutch biopharmaceutical company Crucell have reported that annually changing flu vaccines with their hit-and-miss effectiveness may soon give way to a single, near-universal flu vaccine.
They describe an antibody that, in animal tests, can prevent or cure infections with a broad variety of influenza viruses, including seasonal and potentially pandemic strains.
The finding showed that the influenza subtypes neutralized with the new antibody include H3N2, strains of which killed an estimated one million people in Asia in the late 1960s.
"Together this antibody and the one we reported in 2009 have the potential to protect people against most influenza viruses," said Ian Wilson, who is the Hansen Professor of Structural Biology and a member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research, as well as senior author of the new paper with Crucell's chief scientific officer Jaap Goudsmit.
Crucell is about to begin initial clinical trials of CR6261 in human volunteers, and the company expects eventually to begin similar trials of CR8020. If those trials succeed, aside from a vaccine the two antibodies could be combined and used in a "passive immunotherapy" approach.
The study is detailed in the journal Science Express.