A team of researchers has announced the development of a new flu vaccine that was shown to protect against multiple strains of both seasonal and pandemic H1N1 influenza in mouse models. The findings of the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia and Sanofi Pasteur, were published in the Journal of Virology. Using a technique called Computationally Optimized Broadly Reactive Antigen, or COBRA, nine prototype synthetic compound vaccines constructed using genetic sequences from multiple influenza virus strains.

The COBRA vaccines were designed to recognize H1N1 viruses isolated within the last 100 years, but many of the experimental vaccines produced immunity against influenza strains not included in the design, according to a Science Daily news report. As such, scientists may be able to produce a vaccine that protects against recognized seasonal and pandemic influenza strains as well as strains that have yet to be discovered. Ted Ross, director of UGA’s Center for Vaccines and Immunology and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Infectious Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine, explains that because the vaccine is generated from the genetic sequences of multiple flu viruses, it may protect against many strains over several years.

Essentially, the development may also allow for year-round manufacturing of the vaccine since scientists would not have to halt production every year to identify the most prevalent strains.

“One of the problems with current influenza vaccines is that we have to make predictions about which virus strains will be most prevalent every year and build our vaccines around those predictions,” explains Ross. “What we have developed is a vaccine that protects against multiple different strains of H1N1 virus at once, so we might be able to one day replace the current standard of care with this more broadly cross-protective vaccine.”

The Science Daily news report indicates that the research is part of a broader effort to create a universal influenza vaccine, which would protect against all strains of the virus. According to Ross, “We still have some work to do before we get a truly universal flu vaccine. But the COBRA vaccine we’ve developed for H1N1 virus subtypes is a major step in the right direction.”

Photo Credit: Billy Howard

Source: Science Daily