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Study Reveals Basis for Development of a Universal Flu Vaccine

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 26 Mar 2013
Researchers attempting to develop a "universal" flu vaccine have suggested that a multifocal approach based on primed immune cells and virus specific non-neutralizing antibodies may result in long-term protection from multiple strains of the influenza virus.

Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA) based their work on studies that showed that T lymphocytes were capable of mediating protection against multiple viral strains through recognition of internal, more conserved, influenza virus proteins.

They reported in the March 14, 2013, online edition of the journal PLOS Pathogens that influenza virus-specific CD8+ T-cells or virus-specific non-neutralizing antibodies were each relatively ineffective at conferring protective immunity alone. However, when administered together virus-specific CD8 T-cells and non-neutralizing antibodies cooperatively elicited robust protective immunity. This synergistic improvement in protective immunity was dependent, at least in part, on alveolar macrophages and/or other lung phagocytes.

“The two-pronged approach is synergistic, so by enlisting two suboptimal vaccine approaches, we achieved a better effect than each alone in an experimental model,” said senior author Dr. E. John Wherry, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania,. “Now, we are rethinking past approaches and looking for ways to combine T-cell vaccines and antibody vaccines to make a more effective combined vaccine. Overall, our studies suggest that an influenza vaccine capable of eliciting both CD8+ T-cells and antibodies specific for highly conserved influenza proteins may be able to provide protection in humans, and act as the basis for a potential "universal" vaccine.”

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