Researchers test “universal flu vaccine”

Following the 2018 flu epidemic, experts have been urging consumers to get a flu shot this year to protect themselves.

The 2017-2018 season was one of the most severe in decades. And with rates of infections reaching record highs in many parts of the world, many health professionals say this has highlighted the desperate need for new vaccines to be developed.

Now, in an effort to avoid future epidemics of this kind, a study put together by researchers at Georgia State University has found that a new type of flu vaccine could help protect the public against six different strands of the flu virus.

The vaccine has been described as a “universal flu vaccine”, and has been created in a way that makes it as comprehensive as possible.

It contains two proteins that are commonly associated with different strains of the virus – matrix protein 2 ectodomain (M2e) and neuraminidase (NA). M2e is common is all variations of the flu, whilst NA is less common, and therefore not used as frequently in vaccines.

The researchers said in the report that these proteins were chosen due to their slow evolution process. One of the biggest concerns with the flu virus is the speed it changes and adapts. These proteins are both constants in fighting the flu. This means that they could help to protect the public for longer periods of time.

The vaccine has been tested on mice by exposing them to six different variations of the flu, and then injecting them with the vaccine.

They found that the mice were protected and developed long-term benefits. They were still protected four months after being vaccinated.

Researcher Ye Wang said, “This nanoparticle antigen combination conferred mice with strong cross protection. It can protect mice from different strains of influenza virus. Each season, we have different flu strains that affect us. By using this approach, we hope this nanoparticle vaccine can protect humans from different strains of influenza virus.”

Researcher Gilbert Gonzalez added, “It’s important to mention that a lot of flu vaccines haven’t focused on NA before. NA is becoming a more important antigen for influenza vaccine research.”

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