Universal flu vaccine tested on animals

(ORDO NEWS) — An experimental RNA vaccine has successfully protected experimental rodents against twenty types of influenza A and B viruses.

American developers have received an RNA vaccine containing fragments of the genome of all common variants of the influenza virus.

The new drug has been shown to be highly effective in mice and ferrets, eliciting a good immune response and protecting them from infection by multiple strains of both types of influenza virus.

Influenza viruses are divided into four genera, but the vast majority of human cases are associated with two – influenza types A and B.

Within each of them, several serotypes are distinguished, and within the serotypes themselves, new strains continually arise.

The virus is highly volatile, causing new strains to emerge all the time and vaccines to lose effectiveness quickly.

Every year, doctors have to predict which of the new strains will cause the next pandemic, and each time develop a new vaccine in advance to protect against it.

Sometimes these forecasts do not come true, leading to the loss of huge resources and mass morbidity.

The solution to these problems can be a universal vaccine that can protect against many varieties of the influenza virus.

The creation of such a drug is engaged in the team of Scott Hensley (Scott Hensley) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Unlike most of their peers, they use the new RNA vaccine technology that gained prominence during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to successful developments by Moderna and a consortium of Pfizer and BioNTech.

Unlike traditional vaccines, which contain inactivated particles of the original virus or parts of its proteins, RNA vaccines include fragments of the viral genome in the form of messenger RNA (mRNA) protected by a lipid envelope.

Hensley and his colleagues managed to put “samples” from all 20 common influenza virus types A and B into the vaccine. Other varieties are theoretically possible, but the vaccine contains key variants.

The effectiveness of the drug was demonstrated in tests on mice: scientists showed that animals produce antibodies to all 20 serotypes and their level remains stable for up to four months.

Similar results were obtained in ferrets, a popular model organism in influenza research.

In other experiments, mice were divided into two groups, one of which received the vaccine, and the second received a similar “dummy” drug.

One month after vaccination, the animals were challenged with influenza viruses that carried proteins similar or not too similar to those encoded in the RNA vaccine.

The mice that received the vaccine coped with the first variant of the virus in 100 percent of cases, with the second – in 80 percent.

Rodents who received a “pacifier” always died. This suggests that the drug provides excellent protection against the serotypes contained in it, but reduced protection against new ones.

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