Universal Vaccine That Could Bring an End to the Flu Season

By: | December 2nd, 2022

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have made a breakthrough in designing a vaccine against all 20 known subtypes of the influenza virus. They foresee that in the future it could serve as a general preventative measure against future flu pandemics.

Senior study author, Scott Hensley, said, “The idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a baseline level of immune memory to diverse flu strains so that there will be far less disease and death when the next flu pandemic occurs,” 

This experimental vaccine is based on the same mRNA technology pioneered by the highly successful Covid jabs

The vaccine triggered high levels of antibodies. It is found to protect animal models against severe influenza, even when they were exposed to flu strains different from those used in making the vaccine.

The vaccine is not expected to provide “sterilizing” immunity that entirely checks viral infections 

However, it brings out a memory immune response that can be “quickly recalled and adapted” to new pandemic viral strains. 

“It would be comparable to first-generation SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines, which were targeted to the original Wuhan strain of the coronavirus,” Hensley said. “Against later variants such as omicron, these original vaccines did not fully block viral infections, but they continue to provide durable protection against severe disease and death.”

Now Hensley and his team are designing human clinical trials. If all goes as per plan, the vaccine could be able to provide long-term immune memory against all influenza subtypes in people of all age groups.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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