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Could This New Vaccine Strategy Eliminate the Need for Yearly Flu Shots?

Daniel Kim Views  

A study that suggests that developing a vaccine targeting the less mutating HA glycoprotein could lead to long-lasting immunity against influenza has been published in Science Translational Medicine.

The research indicating a vaccine targeting the less mutating Hemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein could provide long-term immunity against influenza.

Since the influenza virus continuously mutates, getting a flu vaccine annually is mandatory for prevention.

The flu vaccine is based on the influenza virus expected to be most prevalent in a given season. However, developing a lasting vaccine is challenging since surface proteins like HA mutate cause mutated viruses. In other words, vaccines developed in previous years are less effective against mutated viruses, leading to the need for annual vaccine updates.

Research teams have been studying ways to create a universal flu vaccine that can be used more broadly and for longer periods without the need for annual updates.

The researchers pointed out that traditional flu vaccines help produce antibodies to target specific areas on the head of the HA globulin which often mutate.

Therefore, the experts anticipated that a vaccine generating antibodies targeting the HA head and the less mutating HA stalk could provide long-term immunity against a broader range of flu viruses.

The researchers developed an HA antigenic mixture-based vaccine containing a mixture of HA proteins, where the stalk area is conserved, and various mutations occur in the head area.

When the developed vaccine was tested on mice and ferrets and compared with the traditional vaccine, the research team’s vaccine induced a more robust antibody response and provided protection against the H1 virus strain.

The team’s vaccine was more effective when given as a second booster shot rather than a single dose.

However, the team cautioned that animal experiment results could differ from clinical trial outcomes. Since the study focused only on H1 HA, there is uncertainty that the vaccine will be effective against other types of HA.

They also noted that if someone has been vaccinated against influenza or has a history of influenza infection, their existing immunity could affect the vaccine response. In this experiment, the animals exposed to the vaccine had no history of flu vaccination or illness.

Furthermore, experts explained that the development and distribution of a new vaccine are on different dimensions. Even though public health policies encouraging more people to get the improved new vaccine are needed, only about 50% of adults get the flu vaccine.

However, experts added a positive note, saying that this research could lay the foundation for maximizing the vaccine’s effect and ultimately developing a long-lasting flu vaccine.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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