Home Health Universal flu vaccine may be available within two years, says scientist | Vaccines and immunisation

Universal flu vaccine may be available within two years, says scientist | Vaccines and immunisation

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A universal flu vaccine that protects against all strains of the virus could be available within the next two years, according to leading scientists.

An experimental vaccine based on the same mRNA technology used in the hugely successful Covid jab was found to protect mice and ferrets from severe flu, paving the way for clinical trials in humans .

Professor John Oxford, a neurologist at Queen Mary University in London, who was not involved in the study, said a vaccine developed at the University of Pennsylvania could be ready for use next winter. Stated.

“I can’t stress enough what a breakthrough this paper is,” Oxford told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme. “I think the potential is huge and we are underestimating these big respiratory viruses.”

Researchers have been working on a universal flu vaccine for more than a decade, but the latest breakthrough is Published in Scienceis seen as a big step towards a jab that could help protect humans from a devastating flu pandemic.

Seasonal influenza vaccines, which protect against up to four strains of the virus, are updated annually to match circulating influenza viruses. The new vaccine is designed to prime the immune system against all 20 subtypes of influenza A and B, potentially arming the body to deal with any influenza virus that emerges.

The last time the world experienced the 2009 influenza pandemic was when a virus that spread from pigs to humans spread across the globe. The outbreak was far less deadly than health officials had feared, but the 1918 influenza pandemic showed that a dangerous new strain could kill tens of millions of people. I was.

Dr. Scott Hensley, a researcher on the Pennsylvania team, said that by giving people a “baseline” level of immunity to all strains of the flu, they could reduce illness and mortality when the next flu pandemic hits. Experiments in mice and ferrets found that mRNA flu vaccines elicited high levels of antibodies, and that these antibodies provided stable protection against the virus for months.

Results from animal studies are promising, but clinical trials are needed to see if the vaccine protects humans in the same way without causing problematic side effects. has cast doubt on regulators about whether they’ll actually approve a shot that could protect against a virus that hasn’t yet emerged.

“This vaccine has so far only been tested on animals, and it is important to investigate its safety and efficacy in humans,” said Dr Andrew Friedman, leader of infectious diseases at Cardiff University. It seems a very promising approach to the goal of producing a vaccine that is both effective against influenza and protects against multiple members of other viral families, including rhinoviruses and coronaviruses.”

Adolfo Garcia Sastre, Director of the Institute for Global health and Emerging Pathogens at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said current flu vaccines do not protect against influenza viruses with pandemic potential.

“The study is preclinical and an experimental model,” he added. “They are very promising, suggesting a protective capacity against all subtypes of the influenza virus, but we cannot be sure until clinical trials in volunteers.”

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