Currently, the method of developing flu vaccines depends on the viral hemagglutinin (HA) antigen that changes rapidly making available flu vaccines outdated very quickly. The Science journal reports a new study on a set of three new antibodies that have the capability of binding to neuraminidase (NA), a different types of viral cell surface antigens required for viral replication. These new antibodies can bind to NA from multiple subtypes and strains of the virus, which indicates the potential for a wide spectrum of protective action that has the potential of propelling the development of prevention and therapy for influenza. In other words, you could have a new influenza vaccine that is universal and more effective in emergency treatments.
The Conventional Route of Developing Influenza Vaccine
Even though scientists have been trying to find a vaccine that is more broadly protective against more than just one virus strain, the problem with HA-based vaccines is that the protein the viral DNA undergoes very frequent changes requiring a new vaccine to be developed with every new season to match the new viral strains. According to https://time.com, the presence of several new viral strains of the influenza virus every year makes it necessary for scientists to develop a new vaccine that can match the most common ones prevalent in a particular year.
The New Technique Using Anti-NA Antibodies
The fact that Na antigens change far more slowly than HA antigens inspired researchers to develop vaccines using these proteins. Using these antigens has the potential of improving the efficacy of the vaccines against influenza and you could very well have a universal vaccine that can protect you against all strains of the influenza virus, including swine and avian viruses besides human virus. Early studies have revealed that the use of NA-antibodies protected individuals infected with both the earlier stains and current strains of the virus. They identified three new mAbs have also been successfully used in experiments using mice. The experiments have shown these antibodies produced the immunogenic response for successfully blocking multiple NA proteins obtained from several strains of the influenza virus occurring in birds, pigs, as well as humans. This meant that it was effective against not only influenza virus A groups 1 and 2 but also some influenza B viruses.
It was also observed that in most case, the mice did not develop severe influenza and even the injection of normally fatal doses of the H3N2 virus did not kill the mice that had been treated with relatively low doses of the three new mAbs at even up to 72 hours of having been injected. Scientists are hopeful that this will mean the development of a new way of treatment that will be effective even after it is too late to administer Tamiflu that has to be given within 24 hours of the infection.
The results of the experiments are very promising inasmuch it indicates the likelihood of a new mode of therapy for influenza patients. They also are indicative of the way forward for the development of new vaccine types that will bring about similar immune reactions so that better protection can be given to persons who are infected with multiple strains of the influenza virus. Also, read about healthy eating habits for toddlers from our health archives.