‘Universal’ Year-Round Flu Vaccine Moves Step Closer To Production

Researchers have moved closer to producing a flu vaccine that could provide year-long protection against the virus. Early clinical trials showed that a single dose of the vaccine is effective to improve immunity with little side effects.

In a report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers detail how the newly developed FLU-v vaccine blocks A and B influenza strains, which are known as the most common types of influenza infection. The synthetic year-round flu vaccine provided long-lasting protection in its initial tests with humans. 

The scientific community has been facing challenges to create a safe and effective universal vaccination with long-term effects. That is because influenza viruses mutate quickly, requiring scientists to make new vaccination every year and anticipate the top four viruses that are likely to cause widespread flu infections. 

However, there is a possibility that scientists picked the wrong strain. Another challenge is the lengthy manufacturing process.

In some cases, countries receive very limited flu vaccines since scientists fail to meet the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) before the flu season begins. There is also a chance that a strain evolves by the time vaccinations are produced. 

To help address these problems, researchers created the FLU-v vaccine that can be manufactured and distributed for the entire year. It is designed to fight both A and B influenza strains that can infect either humans and animals, IFL Science reported Monday.

In its second clinical trial, researchers from the Universal Influenza Vaccines Secured, a European Union-funded consortium, tested the safety of the year-round flu vaccine and compared its effects to different formulations and doses. It involved 175 healthy individuals, aged between 18 and 60 years. 

The research team noted the experiment did not look into the efficacy of FLU-v. During the trial, participants received either one dose of an adjuvanted FLU-v or two doses of nonadjuvanted vaccine. 

Adjuvants are the ingredients that provide vaccines the effects that help increase immune response to the vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers analyzed each participant’s cellular response at 42 and 180 days after administering FLU-v. The team also collected feedback and updates from participants throughout the study, including possible symptoms of flu. 

By end of the trial, a single dose of FLU-v appeared more effective to boost immune response compared to placebo. People who received the potential year-round vaccine also experienced only mild to moderate adverse effects at the injection site.

Researchers hope to conduct a phase 3 clinical trial to analyze the efficacy of the FLU-v vaccination.

Flu vaccine Health care experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older – including the elderly, chronically ill people, and expectant mothers – receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available. U.S. Department of Defense