Universal influenza B vaccine offers broad, long-term protection

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Scientists from Georgia State University found a new universal flu vaccine that protects against influenza B viruses, offering broad defense against different strains and improved immune protection.

The double-layered protein nanoparticle vaccine, which is constructed with a stabilized portion of the influenza virus (the hemagglutinin (HA) stalk), induced broadly reactive immune responses and conferred robust and sustained cross-immune protection against influenza B virus strains of both lineages.

The research is published in the journal Biomaterials and was conducted by Dr. Baozhong Wang et al.

Influenza epidemics pose a major threat to public health, and type B influenza has coincided with several severe flu outbreaks. About one-fourth of clinical infection cases are caused by influenza B viruses each year.

Influenza B viruses are sometimes the dominant circulating strains during influenza seasons, such as the 2019-20 U.S. flu season when influenza B caused more than 50 percent of the infections.

In the study, the team developed a universal influenza vaccine containing conserved parts of the virus and providing substantial broad cross-protection against diverse virus strains.

They found that layered protein nanoparticles incorporated with structure-stabilized constant antigens have potential as a universal influenza vaccine with improved immune protective potency and breadth.

The nanoparticle vaccine was tested in cell culture and in mice.

Studies in cell culture found the protein nanoparticles were effectively taken up to activate dendritic cells, which are critical for inducing protective immune responses against pathogens.

The vaccine was found to be safe, biocompatible, biodegradable and highly immunogenic in animals.

The researchers’ next aim is to combine the influenza A nanoparticles from a previous study with the influenza B nanoparticles to create a multivalent universal influenza nanoparticle vaccine against both influenza A and B.

If you care about flu, please read studies that COVID-19 mixed with flu can raise risks of death and severe illness, and flu shots and measles vaccines could help ‘flatten the curve’ for COVID-19.

For more information about the pandemic, please see recent studies that immunity to previous cold may make COVID-19 worse, and results showing scientists find durable immunity against COVID-19 variants.

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