Fluturistic: Scientists create super flu vaccine that can fight 20 strains and uses Covid mRNA technology
- The vaccine stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the 20 known flu types
- It could ‘significantly reduce the chance of ever getting a serious flu infection’
- The shot has shown promising results in ferrets, with humans subsequently being tested
Scientists have created a super vaccine that can fight every known flu strain and uses the same technology used in Covid vaccinations.
The experimental vaccine – which has not yet been tested in humans – provided broad protection against 20 influenza A and B subtypes in animal tests.
Given in two shots, it uses the mRNA technology pioneered during the pandemic in Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines.
It works by providing instructions that teach cells to make replicas of proteins found on all surfaces of the flu virus.
This trains the body to remember how to recognize and fight foreign invaders carrying this protein in the future.
The hope is that the universal vaccine would give people a baseline level of immunity that would reduce hospitalizations and deaths every year.
It would also take the guesswork out of developing annual injections each year months prior to flu season.
Currently, the vaccine is determined based on: which flu viruses make people sick before the upcoming flu season; how much those viruses spread; and how well equipped the body is to deal with those flu viruses based on the previous season’s injection.
It comes amid the largest flu outbreak in the US in more than a decade, overwhelming hospitals and closing schools across the country.
The H3N2 strain is currently causing great damage, hitting the elderly and the very young the hardest.
So far there is no vaccine for H3N2 infection. Scientists have made some strides toward developing a vaccine, but there’s no consensus to mass-produce one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccine contains genetic coding instructions for the 20 known flu subtypes. When injected into the body, cells make replicas of proteins found in every flu type. These trigger an immune response in which the body creates and remembers antibodies for each flu subtype. The immune response can be triggered if the body comes down with the flu in the future
While the new vaccine could stop future flu pandemics, it wouldn’t be a panacea, as it would reduce serious illness and deaths but not completely prevent infections.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have only tested the vaccine in mice and ferrets, but are currently designing human trials.
They found that the antibody levels induced by the vaccine remained unchanged for at least four months in the animals tested, the researchers found.
‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: Doctors warn America is running out of FOUR childhood antibiotics and flu meds as kids bear the brunt of ‘triplemic’
America is short of four major antibiotics and respiratory medicines for children as seasonal bugs come back with a bang after being suppressed during lockdowns.
Health officials have stated that there is a shortage of amoxicillin, an essential antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, respiratory infections and strep throat.
But doctors on the ground also report dwindling supplies of Augmentin — an antibiotic that uses amoxicillin in addition to clavulanic acid — Tamiflu, the most commonly used flu drug in U.S. hospitals, and albuterol, an inhaler for asthma and to relieve other lung symptoms.
Desperate parents report going from pharmacy to pharmacy for hours trying to track down their children’s medications.
The shortages are caused by rising demand. Several children’s hospitals have already reached 100 percent capacity as rates of RSV and flu – both of which kill young people – reach their highest level in a decade at this time of year.
Senior author Dr Scott Hensley, a professor of microbiology at the university, said: ‘The idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a basic level of immune memory for different strains of flu so that there will be much less illness and death. to be. when the next flu pandemic occurs.’
He added: “We think this vaccine can significantly reduce the chance of getting a serious flu infection.”
The new jab uses part of a genetic code called mRNA, giving instructions to cells that allow them to make replicas of so-called hemagglutinin proteins that appear on surfaces of the flu virus.
These stimulate an immune response in which the body makes and remembers antibodies for each flu virus.
Current flu shots cannot do this because they rely on a small physical piece of the weakened flu strain.
The injection is not expected to stop flu infections completely, but it will reduce the chances of serious illness and death from new variants of the virus.
And it means people are effectively immunized against 20 strains of flu all at once.
The Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines are both mRNA captures – a little-used technology before it was introduced into the mainstream during the pandemic.
Víctor Jiménez Cid, Professor of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Complutense University of Madrid, said: ‘This is the first high-impact publication presenting a successful strategy for a “universal” mRNA-based vaccine against influenza. ‘
He added: “This type of vaccine would therefore prevent, in addition to seasonal flu … possible new emerging pandemic viruses.”
The study is published in the journal Science.