A new study may usher in
the development of a universal flu vaccine
needs to be administered just once, and might be more effective in preventing
occurrence of all flu
pandemics in the future.
‘Universal Influenza (flu) vaccine may protect against all future strains of Influenza virus as well as flu pandemics.’
Outline of The Study
In a study conducted by
researchers at McMaster and two other American universities, they may be a step
closer to the creation of a much more
effective, "one-punch" universal
This study follows the
earlier discovery, of a class of antibodies that are able to train the immune system
recognize a region on the viral surface that does not change (mutate) every
year. Until now, the limitations to
developing a universal 'one-punch' flu vaccine is that the viral antigens
undergo mutation every year
, and a vaccine that might have been effective
previously might not be effective the following year.
The recently discovered neutralizing antibodies are capable of protecting
against the most virulent (dangerous) influenza virus strains.
Additionally, they are capable of protecting against all future flu strains,
including mutated strains
. This could essentially pave the way for the
creation of a single shot universal flu vaccine.
Comparing How Seasonal Versus Universal Vaccines Work
Seasonal flu vaccines act by producing antibodies that are capable of
binding to the virus and preventing it from infecting other cells
. Universal flu vaccines too function in a similar manner,
but additionally go one step more by
mobilizing white blood cells capable of destroying infected cells
Matthew Miller, the senior author of the study.
Miller and his team have
found that certain antibodies work to mobilize these helpful white blood cells,
while other antibodies may actually prevent their recruitment. This important
difference is influenced by where the antibodies attach on the surface of the
Scope of the Study Findings
Dr Miller said, "Our
findings show that just having antibodies isn't enough. You have to have
antibodies that bind to very specific places on the virus,". "Now that we know the places where
antibodies have to bind, we can modify our vaccines so that we generate those
antibodies in higher numbers."
Dr Miller further adds,
"Using this knowledge, what we can now do is specifically design our universal
vaccine to generate the most desirable types of antibodies and avoid antibodies
that block the functions that we want,". This would ensure that the new universal flu vaccine will work in
the most optimal manner possible
Antibodies capable of
mobilizing white blood cells are currently
being analyzed as possible treatments for cancer and HIV
. The findings by
Miller and colleagues might help improvement of therapy for those diseases too.
(flu) is an infectious disease affecting the respiratory tract. It is caused
by influenza viruses. Illness may vary from mild to severe. Severe
infection may necessitate hospitalization, and may occasionally result in
persons, young children, and people with underlying chronic diseases such as
heart failure, and diabetes, are at increased risk for severe complications
estimates that flu causes 250,000 to 500,000 deaths globally every year.
the best way to prevent the flu is
by getting vaccinated each year
efficacy of the annual flu vaccine depends on the age and health of the person
who receives the shot, the degree of likeness between the viral strains in the
seasonal vaccine and circulating influenza viruses.
The effectiveness of the
flu vaccine depends on whether a live or inactivated vaccine was used, as per
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr Miller hopes that a
universal flu vaccine might be a reality within the next five years. It would
mean the effective prevention of infection and protection against all flu
strains, and preventing flu pandemics.
- Seasonal Influenza - Flu Basics -