New Research May Lead to a Universal Flu Vaccine

Article

The research centers on CD8+ T cells, which can recognize and attack the influenza virus.

New research out of Australia is raising the hope that scientists might soon be able to develop a 1-time vaccine that would provide long-term protection against all types of the flu.

The research centers on CD8+ T cells, which can recognize and attack the influenza virus. These cells have already been known to provide cross-protection against strains of Influenza A. However, to date there has been little evidence regarding the extent to which CD8+ T cells could also provide protection against B and C strains of the flu.

The investigators had previously found that CD8+ T cell response was in many cases the difference between life and death among patients infected by the H7N9 avian flu in China back in 2013. Those with strong CD8+ T cell responses tended to recover relatively quickly; those with low levels of the cells often died.

In an effort to better understand the scope of the cells’ flu-fighting power, investigators decided to use mass spectrometry to identify epitopes that were common among all three types of flu. They analyzed 67,000 viral sequences in search of common epitopes, and found 3.

By locating those common epitopes, the team hypothesized, they might be able to develop a vaccine that could combat all different types of the flu.

A version of this article was originally published by our sister publication MD Magazine, Visit MdMag.com to view the full article.

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