The flu is a serious and potentially fatal health problem that the world is dealing with, according tomedia New Atlas. The virus mutates rapidly and unpredictably, making it difficult to develop an effective vaccine. Now, researchers at Georgia State University have created a vaccine that combines two antigens to protect mice from six different flu strains, potentially paving the way for a generic flu vaccine.
Traditionally, flu vaccines are made up of proteins found in influenza viruses that “train” patients’ immune systems to pay attention to. The problem is that viruses mutate very quickly and often change these proteins and disable the vaccine. That’s why flu vaccines change every year and don’t always stop people from getting sick. Therefore, the emergence of a durable, universal flu vaccine will be a huge help.
The new vaccine developed by the researchers consists of two two types of influenza virus proteins, the extracellular region (M2e) and the neuraminidase (NA). M2e is common to all influenza strains, with small differences and relatively slow mutations. At the same time, NA is found on the surface of the virus and changes more slowly than others. Targeting these proteins will allow the vaccine to fight multiple strains more effectively over a longer period of time.
“It’s important to note that many flu vaccines have not been specific to NA before,” said study co-author Gilbert Gonzalez. NA is becoming a more important antigen in influenza vaccine research. Previously, hemagglutinin (HA) had been neglected or despised because of its dominant position. When you get the flu, your body reacts to HA. “
To test the new nanoparticle vaccine, the researchers injected them into several groups of mice and then exposed them to one of six flu strains. The vaccine successfully stopped the spread of the virus up to four months after it was immunized, suggesting that the drug could eventually become the basis for a generic flu vaccine.
Ye Wang, lead author of the study, said: “This nanoscale antigen combination gives the mice a powerful cross-protection effect. It protects mice from different flu strains. Every season, we have different influenza strains that affect us. By using this method, we hope that this nanoparticle vaccine will protect humans from different strains of influenza viruses. “
Of course, the vaccine also needs to be tested in humans to ensure its benefits continue. Eventually, the team plans to try to load the drug onto a microneedle patch.
The study was published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.