Universal influenza A vaccine effective in mice, researchers find

Researchers backed by the National Institutes of Health created a universal influenza A vaccine that successfully produced long-lasting immunity in mice, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Seasonal flu vaccines are updated annually and offer limited protection against flu viruses, as vaccine manufacturers may inaccurately predict which viral strains will be dominant in a given flu season. To create a universal flu vaccine, researchers opted for a unique formulation. While seasonal flu vaccines target the exterior head of the flu's surface protein, researchers created a vaccine with double-layered protein nanoparticles that target the stalk of the flu protein.

"What we wanted to do is to induce responses to this stalk part of the influenza surface glycoprotein, not the head part. This way you're protected against different viruses because all influenza viruses share this stalk domain," said Bao-Zhong Wang, PhD, associate professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

To assess the new vaccine's efficacy, researchers immunized mice and infected them with various seasonal influenza A strains, including H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1. The vaccine provided complete protection from lethal virus exposure and significantly lessened the amount of viral material in the lungs.

The research team plans to test the vaccine in ferrets, which have respiratory systems comparable to those of humans.

More articles on infection control: 
San Diego County officials end emergency status for hep A outbreak: 5 things to know 
Flu outbreak forces Illinois high school to close — 24% of staff sickened 
6 infected in Texas measles outbreak

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