First Universal Flu Vaccine Test

Oxford scientists reported first clinical testing

The seasonal flu vaccine, the first worldwide in the world to fight all types of viruses, will be clinically tested in the upcoming two-year period. And more than two thousand patients. This universal vaccine was developed by scientists from the Jenner Institute at the Oxford University and by experts from the Vaccitech biotech company.

Every season, doctors across the globe face the same issues – determining the current flu strain so that an adequate vaccine can be applied. There are three types of viruses: A, B and C but only the first two are dangerous because of the epidemic and the susceptibility to mutations. Mostly, the A and B strains alternate year after year, but there is also a pattern repeated twice, which makes it difficult to predict the pattern of occurrence. Due to the change of the strain, the vaccine must also be changed. To that end, it might soon come to an end.

The new vaccine works on the principle of using proteins that are in the nucleus of the virus, not on its surface. Surface proteins, in fact, protruding from spores like pimples and changing all the time, which is different from those of the nuclei that are stable. The new vaccine works by stimulating the immune system to stimulate active T-cells to destroy the virus instead of the antibody. Previous investigations have shown that T cells (cell-killers) help fight more than one strain of a flu virus.

T cells have different roles – some of them behave like guard dogs who alert the body that the virus is present, others kill the infected cells, while the third helps B lymphocytes in the production of antibodies. British scientists believe that the new vaccine will provide better and longer protection when used with regular seasonal vaccines. "We hope the effect will last 2 to 3 years, maybe 4 … we can not be sure until the test is over," explained Vaccitech Tom Evans.

The safety of the new vaccine has already been tested and is now undergoing clinical trials in stage IIb, which examines the dose / response relationship, safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics – which may be different in relation to a healthy population. At this stage, the effectiveness of the drug will be tested for the first time and will include at least 500 Britons.

Scientists note that for the first time the universal flu vaccine successfully passed phase I clinical trials. If successful in Phase IIb, this new vaccine enters an even more expensive (final) phase of testing, stage III, which is the crown of the test itself.

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