Navigation Links
Scientists closer to universal flu vaccine after pandemic 'natural experiment'

Scientists have moved closer to developing a universal flu vaccine after using the 2009 pandemic as a natural experiment to study why some people seem to resist severe illness.

Researchers at Imperial College London asked volunteers to donate blood samples just as the swine flu pandemic was getting underway and report any symptoms they experienced over the next two flu seasons.

They found that those who avoided severe illness had more CD8 T cells, a type of virus-killing immune cell, in their blood at the start of the pandemic.

They believe a vaccine that stimulates the body to produce more of these cells could be effective at preventing flu viruses, including new strains that cross into humans from birds and pigs, from causing serious disease.

The findings are published in Nature Medicine.

Professor Ajit Lalvani from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, who led the study, said: "New strains of flu are continuously emerging, some of which are deadly, and so the Holy Grail is to create a universal vaccine that would be effective against all strains of flu."

Today's flu vaccines make the immune system produce antibodies that recognise structures on the surface of the virus to prevent infection with the most prevalent circulating strains. But they are usually one step behind as they have to be changed each year as new viruses with different surface structures evolve.

Previously, experimental models had suggested that T cells may protect against flu symptoms but until now this idea has not been tested in humans during a pandemic.

Professor Lalvani's team rapidly recruited 342 staff and students at Imperial to take part in their study in autumn 2009. The volunteers donated blood samples and were given nasal swabs. They were sent emails every three weeks asking them to fill in a survey about their health. If they experienced flu symptoms, they took a nasal swab and sent it back to the lab.

They found that those who fell more severely ill with flu had fewer CD8 T cells in their blood, and those who caught flu but had no symptoms or only mild symptoms had more of these cells.

Professor Lalvani said, "The immune system produces these CD8 T cells in response to usual seasonal flu. Unlike antibodies, they target the core of the virus, which doesn't change, even in new pandemic strains. The 2009 pandemic provided a unique natural experiment to test whether T cells could recognise, and protect us against, new strains that we haven't encountered before and to which we lack antibodies.

"Our findings suggest that by making the body produce more of this specific type of CD8 T cell, you can protect people against symptomatic illness. This provides the blueprint for developing a universal flu vaccine.

"We already know how to stimulate the immune system to make CD8 T cells by vaccination. Now that we know these T cells may protect, we can design a vaccine to prevent people getting symptoms and transmitting infection to others. This could curb seasonal flu annually and protect people against future pandemics."


Contact: Sam Wong
Imperial College London

Related biology news :

1. Stanford scientists develop gene therapy approach to grow blood vessels in ischemic limbs
2. Queens scientists seek vaccine for Pseudomonas infection
3. Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells
4. American Society of Plant Biologists honors early career women scientists
5. Brandeis scientists win prestigious prize for circadian rhythms research
6. Scientists discover new method of proton transfer
7. Salk scientists open new window into how cancers override cellular growth controls
8. - Now Featuring Bespoke Pages for China’s Life Scientists
9. Scientists win $2 million to study new pathway in development and maintenance of lymphoma
10. UGA scientists reveal genetic mutation depicted in van Goghs sunflower paintings
11. Genetic mutation depicted in van Goghs sunflower paintings revealed by scientists
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/26/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has ... - Technology and Patent Infringement Risk Analysis" report ... --> Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology represent ... sensor vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% of ... and of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 and ...
(Date:11/20/2015)... November 20, 2015 NXTD ) ... on the growing mobile commerce market and creator of ... Pereira , was recently interviewed on The RedChip ... on this weekend on Bloomberg Europe , Bloomberg ... --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), ...
(Date:11/19/2015)...  Based on its in-depth analysis of the biometric ... the 2015 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Product ... this award to the company that has developed the ... the market it serves. The award recognizes the extent ... customer base demands, the overall impact it has in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/28/2015)... South Korea (PRWEB) , ... November 28, 2015 , ... ... class of eco-friendly avian, porcine and rodent control solutions , ... as peppermint and cinnamon oil, works across all sensory modalities including visual, smell, taste ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Kingdom , Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  Mallinckrodt plc ... company, announced today that it has closed the sale ... business to Guerbet (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in a transaction ... encompassed four manufacturing facilities and a total of approximately ... in the St. Louis area. ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... includes over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, and ... covers a wide range of applications such as, but not limited to, biotechnology, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... India , November 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... --> Growing popularity of companion diagnostics ... in cancer biomarkers market with pharmaceutical companies ... in-demand companion diagnostic tests. ... --> Complete report on global cancer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: