Influenza 2016 update: new flu vaccine can protect against H1N1 using body’s immune response

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Cold and Flu | Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 01:00 PM

flu vaccine h1n1Influenza 2016 update: New flu vaccine can protect against H1N1 using body’s immune response.

Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) and Sanofi Pasteur have developed a new flu vaccine to protect against multiple strains of influenza including seasonal and pandemic H1N1in mouse models. Ted Ross, director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Infectious Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine, said, “One of the problems with current influenza vaccines is that we have to make predictions about which virus strains will be most prevalent every year and build our vaccines around those predictions. What we have developed is a vaccine that protects against multiple different strains of H1N1 virus at once, so we might be able to one day replace the current standard of care with this more broadly cross-protective vaccine.”

In 2009, the H1N1 influenza strain caused a pandemic, which was originally known as swine flu as it resembled influenza commonly found in pigs, but it now circulates as a seasonal flu strain.

The researchers utilized a technique known as Computationally Optimized Broadly Reactive Antigen (COBRA) to create nine prototype synthetic compound vaccines using genetic sequencing of various influenza strains.

These vaccines were designed to recognize H1N1 in the last 100 years, but many of the vaccines created immunities. This opens the door for researchers to produce a vaccine that can protect not only against recognized seasonal influenza strains but also against strains that have yet to be discovered.

Ross concluded, “We still have some work to do before we get a truly universal flu vaccine. But the COBRA vaccine we’ve developed for H1N1 virus subtypes is a major step in the right direction.”

Immune response pushes scientists towards lifelong influenza vaccine

Researchers in Melbourne have uncovered a better understanding of the body’s immune response which could lead them in the right direction to develop a lifelong flu vaccination. The researchers focused on individual cell responses to various strains of influenza virus which painted them a clearer picture of how to develop a more effective influenza vaccination.

Influenza mutates regularly, and so it’s difficult to predict which strain of influenza will appear during the upcoming season and to foresee the next possible influenza pandemic. Researchers focused their study on how the body’s immune response fights off the flu and tried to uncover ways to harness the power of these cells to be added to the vaccination.

Member of the research team Dr. Stephanie Gras said, “Those cells have the advantage that if they come across a new strain, they could be reactivated very quickly and very efficiently to kill the virus. Because we were able to isolate the cells and understand how they were working, and why they were working so efficiently, [we noticed that] they could recognize a very large array of different strains, including the avian flu virus. We’re hoping that if we can understand how those T cells work in different types of tissue, we’ll be a step closer to actually finding a vaccine that could work for different types of strains and hopefully avoid having any new pandemics.”

Efficient T cells are carried by 20 to 25 percent of the worldwide population and so the team is working a way to expand these efficient cells to more people to offer greater protection against influenza.


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Sources:
http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/uga-sanofi-pasteur-new-vaccine-h1n1-influenza-0316/
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-30/lifelong-flu-vaccine-a-possibility-with-new-research/7285520


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