New universal flu vaccine can offer broad protection

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists from Georgia State University found a new universal flu vaccine constructed with key parts of the influenza virus that offers broad cross-protection against different strains and subtypes of influenza A viruses.

The research is published in npj Vaccines and was conducted by Dr. Sang-Moo Kang et al.

Scientists have faced obstacles in the development of effective vaccines for influenza viruses because the head portion of the influenza virus is constantly changing.

When comparing the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A viruses, particular challenges exist in H3N2 subtypes because of stalk mutations in circulating strains and the unstable structure of stalk proteins for H3N2 viruses.

These drawbacks have been difficult to overcome in developing effective H3 stalk-based vaccines.

Vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 was low during the past decade, only about 33 percent, and dropped to 6 percent during the 2014–2015 flu season.

New mutations of H3N2 variants emerged with increased virulence. Also, the outbreak of H7N9, another influenza A subtype, caused concern for potential pandemics.

Therefore, developing an effective vaccine to protect against these viruses is a high priority.

In the study, the researchers developed the universal flu vaccine by genetically linking two highly conserved (relatively unchanged over time) portions of the virus—the extracellular domain of matrix 2 (M2e) and the stalk protein found in influenza A H3N2 viruses.

The findings showed that M2e-stalk protein vaccination-induced broad protection against different influenza virus strains and subtypes by universal vaccine-mediated immunity.

The team says the M2e-stalk protein could be easily produced in bacterial cell cultures at high yields and was found to confer protection against heterologous and heterosubtypic cross-group subtype viruses (H1N1, H5N1, H9N2, H3N2 and H7N9) at similar levels.

These results provide evidence that M2e-stalk genetic fusion proteins can be produced on a large scale at low cost and developed as a universal influenza A virus vaccine candidate.

If you care about flu, please read studies about a new drug that could prevent COVID-19, and hospitalized COVID-19 patients 3 times more likely to die than people with flu.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about flu shots and measles vaccines could help ‘flatten the curve’ for COVID-19 and results showing CBD from cannabis may inhibit COVID-19 infection.

Copyright © 2022 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.