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- Recent advances in flu vaccine research are promising.
- Challenges include the flu virus's rapid mutation and our immune system's response.
- New vaccine candidates show potential in overcoming these obstacles.
The quest for a more effective flu vaccine is making progress, despite the complex challenges posed by the flu virus's rapid mutation and the intricacies of human immunology, writes Wired.
The flu's tendency to mutate constantly presents a significant hurdle in vaccine development. Every year, new vaccines are formulated based on circulating strains, but their effectiveness varies greatly, influenced by the virus's ability to change over time. This has led to a concerted effort to develop a more universal flu vaccine, one that remains effective despite the virus's mutations.
Recent achievements in this area have been notable
A candidate developed by the National Institutes of Health is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials, while other candidates from Moderna and teams at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania have shown promising results. These developments represent a blend of engineering and scientific innovation, leveraging advanced virological tools against a longstanding challenge.
The ideal universal vaccine would not only be more effective against a broader range of flu strains but also offer protection for an extended period. The dream is to also cover pandemic viruses, which differ significantly from the regular mutations of the flu virus.
Exploring various strategies
Researchers are exploring various strategies to overcome these challenges. Some are focusing on presenting multiple versions of the flu virus's surface proteins to the immune system, while others, like Peter Palese's team at Mount Sinai, are creating chimeric viruses to expose less mutable components of the virus to the immune system.
Moderna's approach, using mRNA technology, involves formulating vaccines that prompt the immune system to produce antigens and subsequently develop antibodies against them. This method, combined with the inclusion of additional flu-virus proteins, may represent steps toward a more universal flu vaccine.
News tips: Tomas Wahlgren