The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — part of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) – is conducting progressive research that forges a new path toward achieving the goal of creating a new vaccine to protect against universal flu.
The pioneering approach replaces previous attempts to create a vaccine to defend against specific viral strains and aimed at the viruses that have been deemed likely to cause human disease — based on a predictive forecast.
Instead, researchers are casting a wider net, so to speak, according to NIH representative, Jeffery Taubenberger, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues, who have created a vaccine cocktail that includes four out of sixteen influenza virus protein subtypes — hemmagglutinin, plus two more viruses. Each is related to human seasonal influenza and the avian influenza. Researchers are hopeful this exciting new approach will be more successful against a variety of influenza viruses.
This innovative vaccine was created through the use of virus-like particles (VLPs) that are not infectious but promote the immune system to respond without causing disease or reproducing. Other types of VLP vaccinations have already been approved for human use in defense against human papillomavirus and hepatitis B.
The NIH explains the importance of such a revolutionary approach, “A vaccine that protects against a wide variety of influenza viruses (a so-called universal flu vaccine) is a critical public health goal given the significant rates of illness and death caused by seasonal influenza and the potentially devastating effects of pandemic influenza strain. Now, researchers from the NIAID, part of the NIH, have devised a way to induce protective immunity in mice against a wide array of influenza viruses.”
Recently, the new vaccine study experiments had only been conducted on mice, but now testing is in the process on ferrets, as well. So far, the results have been promising and have been correlated in research on both types of rodents — paving the way to clinical trials on human beings at some point in the future.
Michelle Lewis, spokesperson for a progressive natural health and wellness company, reminds the community that influenza is responsible for countless illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths each year. “The best defense is to proactively boost the immune system before flu has a chance to invade, and that is exactly what this new vaccine approach will help to accomplish. As we saw last year, we can’t always be prepared to defend against the active strains of the flu virus. And for people who have already become ill, immune support can be helpful against the short and long-term symptoms, and can help protect against re-infection.”