A study led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists highlights a new approach for developing a universal influenza vaccine that could protect against multiple flu strains, including deadly pandemic strains. The research appears today in the advance online edition of the scientific journalNature Immunology.
Researchers used the immune suppressing drug rapamycin to shift the immune response following flu vaccination to favor production of antibodies that broadly target flu viruses. The result was a more diverse antibody response to the vaccination that expanded protection to include pandemic strains not targeted by the vaccine. Vaccination is the most effective strategy against flu, particularly the pandemic strains that emerge periodically, but efforts to develop a single, universal vaccine against all flu strains have been unsuccessful.
The findings highlight a novel way to generate antibodies that recognize and target proteins shared by most influenza A strains rather than those unique to each strain. Antibodies are produced by B cells to recognize and defend against viruses. The same strategy might aid efforts to design vaccines against other viruses, researchers said.
Read more at: Phys.org