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Universal flu vaccine tests start
By Emma Wilkinson
Health reporter, BBC News


A universal flu vaccine which could mean an end to the annual jab is being tested on UK volunteers.

It targets a different part of the virus to current vaccines, which means it does not have to be altered every year to match circulating strains.

If successful, the vaccine developed by Oxford University researchers would also be a key weapon in a flu pandemic.

Experts said such a vaccine was the "holy grail" for flu researchers but there was still a long way to go.

Study leader, Dr Sarah Gilbert, said traditional influenza vaccines are designed to prompt an immune response to H and N proteins on the outer shell of the virus.


With this vaccine, we could end up having pretty much everyone vaccinated - a situation more like measles where you don't really see it anymore
Dr Sarah Gilbert

But these proteins are prone to mutation - and every year the vaccine has to be reformulated on the basis of the strains likely to be most prominent.

So instead, the researchers have developed a vaccine on the basis of proteins inside the cell, which are far more similar across different strains.

The vaccine uses a weakened smallpox virus to carry the proteins into the body - a technique that has already been used in malaria and TB vaccines.

Once the virus has invaded the cell and starts to multiply, these inner proteins called matrix protein 1 and nucleo-protein, are revealed to the immune system.

A specific type of immune cell, called a T cell, then learns to recognise and destroy cells containing the proteins the next time it encounters them.

Tests

Initially 12 people will be vaccinated to test the dose before further studies are done to check its effectiveness in people exposed to flu.

New universal flu vaccine is injected into the arm and is taken up by healthy cells.
info-graphic

Cells containing vaccine attract immune cells which multiply and move around the body.
info-graphic

Immune cells now trained to recognise proteins inside virus, which enters body via airways.
info-graphic

Killer immune cells recognise flu-infected cells and destroy them along with flu virus.

Dr Gilbert said if they were successful it could drastically change the way flu vaccine is used.

"With having to make new vaccine every year there's never enough to go around.

"With this vaccine, we could end up having pretty much everyone vaccinated - a situation more like measles where you don't really see it anymore."

In the case of a pandemic, stockpiles of the vaccine could be made in advance instead of having to wait for an outbreak to then identify the particular strain of flu.

Potentially, once people had received the vaccine they would only need a booster once every five to10 years.

But she added the research team had five to 10 years of further tests ahead of them.

However, it is hoped a similar approach might eventually also be used to combat HIV, TB, malaria and even cancer.

Professor John Oxford, a flu vaccine expert at Queen Mary, University of London said such a vaccine would be the "ultimate prize".

"But it's a fairly difficult prize to get - it may just be a question of luck.

"There are people trying all kinds of strategies."

He added that having to manufacture different flu vaccines every year was a "huge burden" on pharmaceutical companies.

"This team have experience with this type of vaccine so they may well get there."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7577501.stm
 

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Not quite an "I am Legend" scenario, but it's a good approach. Maybe I'll be working on something like this in a couple of years. At least this gets my mind back into "school mode," which happens to start Monday.

The best part of this is, I understand all of this. Also Ship, don't worry to much about the smallpox virus being used. They destroy the harmful parts and use it as a transporter, so it should be safe (thats what limited testing is for :? although I wouldn't want to be one of them).

I also like the 12 that they will be working on dosages for. Wouldn't that suck to get the dose that is too high and either gets you really ill or kills ya? It would also suck to get too low of a dose, then get exposed to the panel of flu viruses and contract them all. I hope the test subjects are getting paid well. I wonder if they have health coverage :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

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Yeaaaa, I think this one is not ready for prime time just yet. Sounds like a live virus strain vaccine, kind of like the yellow fever shot. The part that makes me a little concerned is they are using the small pox virus as a vehicle to infect the flu virus. Now I'm no iImmunologist, but whats to stop a mutation between the small pox and influenza that would become a highbread?

I'll think I'll take a pass on this one for now. Let the limey's test it out.

If you ask me they should look at that DNA codeing immunization. That makes more sence to me.
 

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Well having the small pox giving to me I did research for it. Like a lot of other diseases, it came from an animal. What they do is use cowpox on a lowscale to inoculate us against smallpox. And little know fact but can be checked with the CDC website, smallpox was iradicated for the most part from the world because of vacination back in the 1975-1976 range it died out. Why we are immune to it and why it got wiped out??? well when you were a kid you might have gotten it! Same thing with anything given to a newborn and young pets, it keeps them safe from stuff for most of their life. So technically if you want any scenario go look up something else :p
 

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By that time I think the US was good to go, but then...I have to have it when I go either to Korea, or the Middle East...so conspire away please :shock:
 
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