Vaccinating against the flu is like shooting at a moving target. Influenza strains continuously mutate, and it is difficult for researchers to identify the three or four strains most likely to post the most significant risk in any given season. As a result, developing flu vaccines is something of a guessing game.
According to the CDC, vaccines are generally less effective at protecting against the influenza A (H3N2) strain than other types. But researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York have developed an experimental universal vaccine that is effective against various influenza virus strains and subtypes. The vaccine generated strong clinical trial results in early-stage clinical trials in 65 participants.
The universal flu vaccine targets a portion of the flu virus’s surface protein. The antibodies to that protein are effective against diverse influenza strains. Recipients of the influenza vaccine who receive two or three immunizations could potentially receive durable flu immunity.
“An influenza virus vaccine that results in broad immunity would likely protect against any emerging influenza virus subtype or strain and would significantly enhance our pandemic preparedness, avoiding future problems with influenza pandemics as we see them now with COVID-19,” said Florian Krammer, a Mount Sinai professor and author of the study.
The scientists published their research in Nature Medicine.
Filed Under: clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Infectious Disease