Universal flu vaccine closer to reality

Aug 24, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
To be clear, neither group has created a truly universal flu vaccine, which would have to work against the entire dizzying array of influenza viruses. The highest level of classification divides the viruses into influenza A, B, and C; A includes all the biggest troublemakers. Within influenza A are group 1 and group 2, sorted based on which HAs are expressed on the viral surface. On top of that, sixteen different HA subtypes mix and match with nine subtypes of another protein called neuraminidase to create
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The vaccine delivered last year for those wanting to prevent contracting the flu virus came under fire for its inefficiency, yet much of the problem surrounding whether or not vaccines work is, in part, the nature of the evolving virus. Two separate teams of scientists in the U.S. have published details of their work on developing a vaccine that would react to multiple strains of a virus. The BBC reports:

Two separate US teams have found success with an approach that homes in on a stable part of the flu virus.
 
That should remove the problem with current flu vaccines which must be given anew each year because they focus on the mutating part of the virus.
 
The proof-of-concept work is published in Science journal and Nature Medicine.
 
Studies are now needed in humans to confirm that the method will work in man.
 
In the meantime, experts say people should continue to receive an annual flu jab because vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself against infection.
 
Conventional flu jabs target molecules on the surface of the flu virus, but these are constantly changing.
 
Imagine the flu virus as a ball with lots of lollipops on stems sticking out.
 
The lollipops change year to year, but the stems remain the same.
 
It is the stems that scientists are now focusing on as a target for a universal flu jab.
 
 
To be clear, neither group has created a truly universal flu vaccine, which would have to work against the entire dizzying array of influenza viruses. The highest level of classification divides the viruses into influenza A, B, and C; A includes all the biggest troublemakers. Within influenza A are group 1 and group 2, sorted based on which HAs are expressed on the viral surface. On top of that, sixteen different HA subtypes mix and match with nine subtypes of another protein called neuraminidase to create strains such as H3N2 or H5N1.
 
In both of these studies, the researchers began with a group 1 strain (H1N1 or swine flu) and tested whether its stem could induce immunity against another group 1 strain (H5N1 or avian flu). But creating a vaccine that would incite immunity against both group 2 and Influenza B would probably require engineering proteins to elicit different antibodies. “To be realistic, rather than calling it universal, it’s broadening protection,” says Nagel.
 
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