Scientists from McMaster University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York are all set to start clinical trials of a flu vaccine which they believe could be a universal one-time vaccine for preventing infection from all strains of the virus causing flu. They revealed that their new vaccine contains a class of antibodies, already present in the body, which gets attached to a specific part of the influenza virus, which during pandemics doesn’t mutate. Matthew Miller, an assistant professor in McMaster’s department of biochemistry and biomedical sciences opines that this would help the vaccine to be effective against all strains of flu virus.
According to Miller, it the clinical trials furnished positive result, the vaccine will eradicate the need of year-to-year vaccination. The vaccine could be ready in five to seven years depending on the results of the trail. Miller commented “It would be the standard of care for flu prevention globally.”
The current flu vaccines contain antibodies to fight against two or three strains of flu virus by targeting specific mutations of the flu virus. Influenza A is the strongest of the flu which mutates at rate faster than any other strain. Influenza B affects children more and, unlike influenza A, it does not cause pandemics. Influenza C is a mild one.
In 2009 Miller had said that the H1N1 flu pandemic presented the example of a mutating flu disease. According to the World Health Organization it claimed around 18,449 lives across the globe. Recent reports have also revealed that this season’s flu virus has also mutated and is infecting even the vaccinated people. As per Miller, the vaccine presently under development contains a broad spectrum antibody which is found in the lungs. It attaches to that site of the virus which is “intolerant” to mutations. The vaccine is also expected to work on all types of influenza A strains.
Miller stated “There’s just no time to change the strain (on this year’s vaccine)” and added that their one-time universal vaccine would eliminate the guesswork and risk of “super-flu.” He added “It seems like we have the right antibodies in the right place. Unlike seasonal vaccines, which must be given annually, this type of vaccine would only be given once, and would have the ability to protect against all strains of flu, even when the virus mutates.”