Study suggests potential hurdle to universal flu vaccine development may be overcome

August 15, 2012

In the quest for a universal influenza vaccine—one that elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies that can protect against most or all strains of flu virus—scientists have faced a sobering question: Does pre-existing immunity generated by prior exposure to influenza virus or vaccine hamper production of broadly neutralizing antibodies? If so, then a universal flu vaccine might work best (and perhaps only) in very young children who have had limited exposure to influenza viruses or vaccines.

Now, in studies using mice and ferrets, investigators from the Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown that broadly neutralizing influenza antibodies can indeed be elicited by a prime-boost vaccine regimen, even when the animals had pre-existing immunity to influenza.

The vaccine regimen consisted of a DNA vaccine prime followed by boosting with an inactivated seasonal vaccine. It did not matter if the pre-existing immunity was due to exposure to a flu virus or if it followed vaccination with standard seasonal . Influenza-immune ferrets inoculated with the prime-boost regimen were protected against challenge with unmatched virus strains.

If the same effect is found in studies in people, it might be possible to develop vaccines that give long-lasting flu protection to people of all ages, according to the researchers.

Several clinical trials to examine the ability of first-generation universal flu vaccines to generate broadly are either under way or planned at the VRC.

Explore further: Priming with DNA vaccine makes avian flu vaccine work better

More information: C-H Wei et al. Elicitation of broadly neutralizing influenza antibodies in animals with previous influenza exposure. Science Translational Medicine DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004273 (2012).

Related Stories

Priming with DNA vaccine makes avian flu vaccine work better

October 3, 2011
The immune response to an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine was greatly enhanced in healthy adults if they were first primed with a DNA vaccine expressing a gene for a key H5N1 protein, researchers say. Their report describes ...

Pandemic 2009 H1N1 vaccination produces antibodies against multiple flu strains

May 21, 2012
The pandemic 2009 H1N1 vaccine can generate antibodies in vaccinated individuals not only against the H1N1 virus, but also against other influenza virus strains including H5N1 and H3N2. This discovery adds an important new ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.