Oxford University scientists have successfully tested a universal flu vaccine that could work against all known strains of the illness.
The treatment-using a new technique and tested for the first time on humans infected with flu-targets a different part of the flu virus to traditional vaccines, meaning it does not need expensive reformulation every year to match the most prevalent virus that is circulating the world.
Developed by a team led by Sarah Gilbert at Oxford’s Jenner Institute, the vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common across all strains, instead of those that sit on the virus’s external coat, which are liable to mutate.
In the trial, Gilbert vaccinated 11 healthy volunteers and then infected them, along with 11 non-vaccinated volunteers, with the Wisconsin strain of the H3N2 influenza A virus, which was first isolated in 2005.
She monitored the volunteers’ symptoms twice a day, including runny noses, coughs and sore throats, and she calculated how much mucus everyone produced by weighing tissues they used. Though a small study, it was significant in that it was the first vaccine of its type to be tested on people.
“This is the first time anyone”s tested if you can boost somebody’s T-cell response to flu and, having done that, if it helps protect against getting flu. It”s the first time anybody”s done that in people,” said Gilbert.
“Fewer of the people who were vaccinated got flu than the people who weren”t vaccinated. We did get an indication that the vaccine was protecting people, not only from the numbers of people who got flu but also from looking at their T-cells before we gave them flu,” she said.
The vaccine could provide better protection against flu for older people. Gilbert said that the older people get, the less efficient their immune systems are at making new antibodies. (ANI)