Universal Flu Vaccine Protects 100% of Mice

Scientists from the USA have presented the results of preclinical studies of an experimental flu vaccine, which has shown excellent efficacy in protecting against lethal doses of the virus. In the future, the vaccine is expected to become a universal tool against various strains of the flu virus, eliminating the need for annual updates.

The development of the new vaccine was carried out by a team from Duke University. Scientists created a compound that targets the least variable part of the virus, allowing for broad protection against different strains regardless of the prevailing one in a given season.

The vaccine targets the surface protein of the virus called hemagglutinin, but unlike seasonal vaccines, it binds to the “stem” or “stalk” of the protein rather than its “head,” which is particularly prone to changes. In total, scientists created over 80,000 variations of hemagglutinin.

The new vaccine was tested on mouse and ferret models. Scientists observed an enhanced immune response both to the vaccine as a whole and selectively, in the case of antibody reactions to the head part of the protein.

As a result, the vaccine protected animals from lethal doses of the virus in 100% of cases—they either avoided infection or fatal outcomes. According to the authors, such results are impressive, considering that today, even with seasonal flu vaccines available, approximately half a million people die annually.

Earlier, other scientists presented another universal flu vaccine. In preclinical experiments, it protected against strains of H1N1, H5N1, H3N2, H9N2, and H7N9 influenza viruses, as well as influenza B viruses.

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