WHAT: The costly, time-consuming process of making, distributing and administering millions of seasonal flu vaccines would become obsolete if researchers could design a vaccine that confers decades-long protection from any flu virus strain.
Making such a universal influenza vaccine is feasible but licensing it may require innovation on several fronts, including finding new ways to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates in clinical trials, conclude scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
In a Nature Medicine commentary, authors Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director, and Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, contrast the envisioned universal influenza vaccine with today's seasonal influenza vaccines. Current seasonal flu vaccines prompt immune responses that mimic those made following natural exposure to the flu virus. Both exposure and vaccination elicit antibodies directed at the roundish head portion of a lollypop-shaped flu protein called hemagglutinin (HA). But the composition of HA's head changes from year to year, gradually becoming unrecognizable to previously made antibodies. Thus, vaccination—which induces antibodies tailored to that year's HA head region—must be repeated annually to maintain immunity to the virus.
A universal flu vaccine would have to elicit a type of immune response that rarely occurs naturally, note Drs. Fauci and Nabel. A detailed understanding of flu virus structure may make such a vaccine possible, they add. For example, scientists have identified a region of HA's stem that is shared among diverse strains, and a research group at NIAID's Vaccine Research Center recently created influenza vaccines that elicit antibodies aimed at this shared region, rather than at the quick-changing head. Animals that received the experimental vaccines were protected from a diverse array of flu virus strains.
In essence, say the authors, thanks to the growing body of knowledge about flu viruses and their interactions with the cells of humans and animals they infect, it may one day be possible to make a universal flu vaccine that improves on nature. They also outline how such a vaccine might proceed through stages of clinical testing and on toward licensing. For example, they sort the 16 known influenza virus subtypes into three tiers based on their likelihood of causing widespread disease in humans. Drs. Fauci and Nabel suggest that vaccine development might be prioritized to produce first-generation universal influenza vaccine candidates that protect against multiple virus strains within the highest priority group.
For more information about NIAID research on influenza, visit the NIAID flu Web portal.
ARTICLE: GJ Nabel and AS Fauci. Induction of unnatural immunity: Prospects for a broadly protective universal influenza vaccine. Nature Medicine DOI: nm.2272 (2010)
WHO: NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and Gary J. Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., director, Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, are available to discuss their paper.
CONTACT: To schedule interviews, please contact Anne A. Oplinger in the NIAID Office of Communications at 301-402-1663 or email@example.com.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov
Anne A. Oplinger | EurekAlert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering