A vaccine combining centralized ancestral genes from four major influenza strains appears to provide broad protection against the risky ailment, according to new research by a team from the Nebraska Center for Virology.
"We need to get away from the antiquated production model, which the egg is", said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Conventional vaccines are reportedly less than 60% effective-and that's only when they're matched with the now circulating strain.
The idea is to use an ancestral form of the influenza virus in a vaccine.
"In the meantime, everyone should continue to get their annual flu vaccine". The mice protected with the new vaccine survived exposure to "lethal doses of seven of nine widely divergent influenza viruses".
The egg method allows for large-scale manufacturing but is unreliable.
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"The good news is that it's much more hard to drive mutations in the stalk, but it's not impossible", says David J. Topham, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of the study in Scientific Reports. Those that received higher doses of the vaccine didn't even get sick. This limits the spread of the virus. They adopt genetic changes that help them grow in the egg environment.
The current strain of H3N2 emerged during the 2014-15 flue season and remains prevalent today. The 2016-2017 vaccine included a clade 3C.2a H3N2 strain, but the egg-adapted version of the viral strain lacked the new site.
Scientific American explains all the medical details very simply - In 2014, the H3N2 virus began wearing a new molecule on one of its surface proteins.
"Our experiments suggest that antigens of the influenza virus grown in systems other than eggs are probably more likely to trigger an immune response by producing neutralizing antibodies to the H3N2 viruses in circulation", said professor Hensley. That sugar makes its hard for our antibodies to attach to the virus and kill it, and protect the virus from destruction.
"Our experiments suggest that influenza virus antigens grown in systems other than eggs are more likely to elicit protective antibody responses against H3N2 viruses that are now circulating", Hensley said.
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