Researchers Closer to Creating Universal Flu Vaccine

April 29, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Vaccine researchers from Saint Louis University are a step closer to developing a universal flu vaccine that would offer protection against multiple strains of the flu virus. Researchers say a vaccine offering patients broad immunity would be extremely useful in fighting against deadly influenza pandemics.

Lead researcher Dr. Robert Belshe, developed a vaccine made from proteins strains derived from both influenza viruses A and B. Current flu vaccines are different every year, with drug companies manufacturing a vaccine offering protection for only one strain of influenza, based on the predictions of scientists. Sometimes, their predictions are wrong and an entirely different strain of flu affects the population, rendering the seasonal flu vaccine produced useless.

To solve the problem of ineffective seasonal flu vaccines, an universal “Novel” vaccine would offer better protection from multiple strains, removing the yearly guessing game to predict which strain will hit each year.

The study tested the universal vaccine, called Bivalent Influenza Peptide Conjugate Vaccine or BIPCV on 377 healthy adults. Over a six-month period, the study participants received three injections of the BIPCV vaccine. Researchers found the vaccine triggered the desired immune response, producing high antibody titers in the study participants.

The participants were given low doses of the new universal vaccine and it was well tolerated, says Dr. Belshe. The results of the study were promising, with more testing needed on a greater number of participants, varying the doses to arrive at the correct dosage.

This vaccine can’t come soon enough, as the world is now in the throes of a global swine flu epidemic. Another widespread seasonal influenza epidemic on the heels of the swine flu outbreak, could be deadly.

A universal vaccine would prevent infection and save lives.

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