Sunday, October 9, 2011

DNA Avian Flu Vaccine Helps Make Universal Antibodies

In 2010, researchers at the Vaccine Research Center showed that in mice, ferrets, and monkeys, when a DNA primer vaccine for avian flu, H5N1, regimen was injected, the treatment elicited hemagglutin (HA) - directed antibodies. This is important because while influenza strains change seasonally, it is thought that the HA stem is relatively constant across many of the strains and a vaccine could be more universal if it was directed at this conserved head region of a protein. A few says ago Lancet Infectious Diseases published results from phase 1 clinical trails of the treatment in humans- with very similar results. Those who had the DNA vaccine primer were more protected against the virus, and some volunteers produced broadly neutralizing antibodies directed at the HA stem.

This is good news to those threatened by H5N1, for developing an effective vaccine with an inactivated virus. But while this is nothing definite, the larger picture of the study is actually very exciting. If we can create a vaccine like this DNA vaccine that spurs immune systems to produce antibodies for widely conserved proteins in the influenza virus strains, then we are one step closer to developing a longer lasting vaccine and protecting more people for longer.


-Emily Pollock

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