Navigation Links
'Universal' Flu Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A small group of 22 British volunteers is testing out a new "universal" influenza vaccine: one that might be effective against all strains of flu and wouldn't have to be reformulated each year, as now happens.

"Our hope is to develop a vaccine that works against all strains of influenza A and all subtypes so we won't need to keep making new flu vaccines each year and new flu vaccines when there is a pandemic," said lead researcher Sarah Gilbert, from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. "We will have one vaccine that works against all of them."

The experimental vaccine -- which targets relatively stable proteins inside the virus that are common to most or all strains -- might someday turn flu immunization into just another shot that people could get any time of the year. Fears of flu shot shortages could become a thing of the past, experts said.

Although Gilbert won't talk about the results of this very early clinical trial until they are published in a medical journal, it appears they are positive.

In the trial, half of the participants received the vaccine, while the other half did not. Early results indicate that those who received the vaccine have developed antibodies to flu, Gilbert told the British newspaper The Guardian. She said that fewer of those who got the vaccine came down with influenza, and their immune system T-cells seemed to be in a more activated state.

Although larger trials requiring thousands of people are needed to say anything definite, "I would call this an extremely important step in flu vaccine development," Gilbert told HealthDay.

"The first thing is, can we get broad immunity rather than specific immunity to particular flu viruses circulating this year that might not be in circulation next year?" she said. "The next thing is how long will the immunity last -- obviously only time will tell."

Flu expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, explained how a longer-term influenza vaccine might work.

"The flu virus is a very simple thing," he said. "It's a collection of genetic particles wrapped in an envelope." In particular, two proteins on the outside of the envelope allow the virus to infect a person, and there are many different varieties of these proteins, Seigel said. Current vaccines target these outside proteins, which is why vaccines must be changed each year.

But the flu virus also contains proteins within it that are common to all flu viruses, he said. A universal flu vaccine would work by targeting such proteins. The body would then develop antibodies to these types of proteins, which theoretically would make you immune to all or most circulating flu strains, Siegal explained.

"I think this [new vaccine] is very exciting," he said. "It's the flu vaccine of the future."

However, even if a universal vaccine works out, it would not be a once-in-a-lifetime shot, Gilbert stressed. "You would probably need boosters," she said.

One concern about a universal flu shot has been side effects, such as fever and flu-like symptoms. But this appears not to be a problem so far, Gilbert said. "We have been assessing safety very carefully in the phase 1 and phase 2 studies and we haven't had any problems with safety," she said.

She believes it will take at least five years before the vaccine could be ready for use by the general public.

But another expert cautioned that the public shouldn't get overly excited just yet.

"The concept that there would be a universal flu vaccine would be a grand slam home run," said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of the division of infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY. "The fact is that we are years away from that," he added.

Farber said any vaccine would have to be tested in a large number of people and against different strains of flu.

In addition, a vaccine that appears safe in a small number of people doesn't guarantee it would be safe when given to hundreds of millions of recipients, he said.

"Although the concept is great and I hope this pans out, I don't think we can be popping the champagne yet," Farber said.

More information

For more on flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Sarah Gilbert, Ph.D., the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University, New York City; Bruce Farber, M.D., chief, division of infectious diseases, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Feb. 6, 2011, Guardian

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Pandemic flu strain could point way to universal vaccine
2. Universal standards proposed for prescription container labels to help reduce medication misuse
3. World Health Report 2010 balanced but incomplete account of how to achieve universal health coverage
4. Universal Health Care May Lessen Incomes Impact on Heart Disease
5. International AIDS Society emphasizes universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care as a prerequisite for improving maternal and child health
6. Experts recommend universal screening of newborns for congenital adrenal hyperplasia
7. Government urges universal flu vaccinations
8. AIDS 2010 delegates and speakers unite in support of full funding for the Global Fund, the next milestone in drive for universal access
9. Study shows universal surveillance for MRSA significantly decreased HAIs at PCMH
10. Universal HIV testing and immediate treatment could reduce but not eliminate HIV/AIDS epidemic
11. Mount Sinai researchers approaching universal treatment for all strains of influenza
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
'Universal' Flu Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ProSidebar: Fashion ... Cut Pro X. With ProSidebar: Fasion, video editors can easily add an informative ... a minimalist title opener. Utilize presets featuring self-animating drop zones, lines, bars, and ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Consistent with the ... 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs meeting will showcase some of ... 6, 2016, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a pre-conference session on ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... A simply groundbreaking television series, "Voices in America", which is hosted by Hollywood ... issues that are presently affecting Americans. Dedicated to providing the world with a wide ... subjects consumers focus on, one episode at a time. , In the latest ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Keeping ... platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with a leading web-based ... the knowledge gap experienced by parents and bring advice from parenting experts within ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 2015 , ... The men and women on this list ... the country. They have overseen financial turnarounds, shown commitment to their community through ... as a whole through their advocacy and professional efforts. , Becker's Hospital Review ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the addition of the  "2016 Future ... European Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Market: ... Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities"  report to their ... has announced the addition of the  ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , November 26, 2015 ... the "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ... ) has announced the addition of the ... report to their offering. --> Research ... addition of the "Self Administration of High ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... the addition of the "Radioimmunoassay Market ... User (Hospital, Pharmaceutical Industry, Academics, Clinical Diagnostic ... - Global Forecast to 2020" report ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: