As of recently, scientists have been attempting to create a universal flu vaccine, after they initially made experimental hypodermic injections that function in animals.
So it appears that the vaccines administered to animals, such as ferrets, mice and monkeys, alleviated the symptoms of different variants of flu, and even prevented the critters’ deaths.
Health experts and doctors believe that a universal flu vaccine would help people at risk and would eliminate the need of them getting these hypodermic injections each year. Moreover, this specific vaccine would protect humans from diseases that might jump from pigs of birds into them.
Typical flu vaccines target a molecule denominated haemagglutinin (HA) sitting on flu viruses. But due to frequent mutations of the HA, flu vaccines have to be updated seasonally, so that their effectiveness is certain.
The most recent seasonal flu vaccine offered little protection, due to the mutations of the HA. Public Health London even claimed that the flu vaccine, poor in its protective qualities, would be behind many flu-related deaths.
But on Monday two studies were published in the journal Nature Medicine, which analyzed the fact that two scientific teams created an innovatively useful vaccine against flu, that targeted the HA molecule’s stem, instead of its “head.” Casual flu vaccines were created so as to target the haemogglutinin’s head. Moreover, they thought of this strategy, as the stem’s mutations are not that frequent as the HA’s head ones.
It seems that this particular region called the HA molecule’s stem is not prone to change, while all flu A viruses exhibit it. This could only mean that, provided the stem is primarily targeted by the vaccine, immunity could be raised for many types of viruses concomitantly. However, developing such a vaccine was truly challenging.
It seems that this particular vaccine worked well in protecting mice and ferrets from the H5N1 bird flu virus, which was lethal in animals which weren’t administered with the vaccine. The H5N1 virus targeted and killed approximately 400 people since 2003, who had caught the flu virus from infected, domesticated fowl.
The first research team was led by Barney Graham who is hoping to create other variants of the vaccine to annihilate other flu viruses.
The head of viral vaccines discovery at Janssen Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Hanneke Schuitemaker, who was involved in the creation of the vaccine, explained that:
“Influenza remains one of the most serious public health challenges, and new therapeutic and preventative solutions are needed.”
However, it should finally be revealed that it will take a while for these vaccines to be administered to humans, as they need to be tested in clinical trials first, according to Prof. Sarah Gilbert, British vaccinology expert from Oxford University.
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