Universal flu vaccine in development

Publicação: 14 de October de 2015

Once injected in mice and monkeys, the response to the new immunizer was able to protect them against different subtypes of the virus

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According to Dr. Ian Wilson, the goal is to make this vaccine available worldwide as a seasonal vaccine

High fever, head and body aches, malaise, cough and runny nose. These are the symptoms of one of the planet’s most common viruses: the influenza, better known for causing the flu. Despite the disease’s popularity is given to its easy infection, the virus kills from 250 thousand to 500 thousand people every year. For this reason, health professionals are very excited with the advances achieved by researches that aim to develop a universal vaccine against the flu.

In an article published on Science Magazine, two separate groups of researchers reported the success of animal tests. “Once injected in rats and monkeys, the response to the new immunizer was able to protect these animals against different subtypes of the influenza virus”, explained Dr. Ian Wilson, who coordinates one of the groups, in an interview to the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (BSTM).

Besides having several subtypes (as H1N1, responsible for the 2009 pig flu outbreak or the H5N1, for the bird flu), the flu virus is extremely mutable. Here lays the dificulty to develop a long-lasting vaccine able to protect against any kind of flu. Currently, the existing vaccines are constantly altered to strike seasonal flu. The change in this logic led to the success of new laboratory studies. Scientists decided to attack a stable part of the virus. “Our method aimed to create an immunizer able to create antibodies that could neutralize influenza, inducing the production of antibodies in the hemagglutinin regions”, detailed Dr. Ian Wilson.

Commercialization

The new method still needs to be tested against influenza virus’ A and B types. The next step will involve clinical trials to verify their effectiveness. This makes us believe scale production will not happen in a few years. “Our goal is to make this vaccine worldwide available as a seasonal vaccine – but this vaccine will only com in the future”, highlighted Dr. Wilson. Until the universal vaccine is available, the flu immunization should be mantained in the annual calendar. There are evidences that support people who are immunized every year develop greater resistance to the disease.…