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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Two-Pronged Immune Cell Approach Could Lead to a Universal Shot Against the Flu

Posted by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:04 AM
  • 13 Replies

Seasonal epidemics of influenza result in nearly 36,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Current vaccines against the influenza virus elicit an antibody response specific for proteins on the outside of the virus, specifically the hemagglutinin (HA) protein.

Yearly vaccines are made by growing the flu virus in eggs. The viral envelope proteins, including HA, are cleaved off and used as the vaccine, but vary from year to year, depending on what flu strains are prevalent. However, high mutation rates in envelope HA proteins result in the emergence of new viral types each year, which elude neutralization by preexisting antibodies in the body (specifically the HA proteins' specific receptor binding sites that are the targets of neutralizing antibodies). On the other hand, other immune cell types are capable of mediating protection through recognition of other, more conserved parts of HAs or highly conserved internal proteins in the influenza virus.

E. John Wherry, PhD, associate professor of Microbiology and director of the Institute for Immunology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues, report in PLOS Pathogens that influenza virus-specific CD8+ T cells or virus-specific non-neutralizing antibodies are each relatively ineffective at conferring protective immunity alone. But, when combined, the virus-specific CD8 T cells and non-neutralizing antibodies cooperatively elicit robust protective immunity.

This synergistic improvement in protective immunity is dependent, at least in part, on other immune cells -- lung macrophages and phagocytes. An implication of this work is that immune responses targeting parts of the virus that are not highly variable can be combined for effective protection.

"The two-pronged approach is synergistic, so by enlisting two suboptimal vaccine approaches, we achieved a better effect than each alone in an experimental model," says Wherry. "Now, we are rethinking past approaches and looking for ways to combine T-cell vaccines and antibody vaccines to make a more effective combined vaccine."

"Overall, our studies suggest that an influenza vaccine capable of eliciting both CD8+ T cells and antibodies specific for highly conserved influenza proteins may be able to provide protection in humans, and act as the basis for a potential 'universal' vaccine," says Wherry.

These results suggest a novel strategy that could potentially form a primary component of a universal influenza vaccine capable of providing long-lasting protection.

Co-authors include Brian J. Laidlaw, Vilma Decman, Mohammed-Alkhatim A. Ali, Michael C. Abt, Amaya I. Wolf, Laurel A. Monticelli, Krystyna Mozdzanowska, Jill M. Angelosanto, David Artis, and Jan Erikson.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (HHSN272201100018C, AI077098).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314175657.htm
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Awesome news! This new development can help a lot of high risk people :) 

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Christian, vaccinating, fun-loving, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, positive disciplining, nerdy, extended rear-facing, bookworm, creative, outdoorsy, autodidactic, friendly family.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -- Mother Teresa

by on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:04 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Sisteract
by Whoopie on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM

These results suggest a novel strategy that could potentially form a primary component of a universal influenza vaccine capable of providing long-lasting protection.


Conversely, how much research will need to be done to ensure that the combo is not in any way caustic.

kailu1835
by Ruby Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM
2 moms liked this

Too bad it still won't get great efficacy.  Even when the flu contracted is one that is in the vaccine, they're giving it a 60% efficacy rate.  And then there's all the people who get the flu from the vaccine.  Oh, excuse me... it's not the flu, just all the flu symptoms <eye roll>

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:41 AM
1 mom liked this

No, that's not an accurate figure though it is trotted out every year.  Flu does not cause 36,000 deaths every year.  Though some people get ill and die, because they had other conditions that weakened them anyway or they develop pneumonia.

Flu shots do not work.  It was only about 50% effective this year for some people and 9% (!!!) effective for the elderly.

So yeah....let's let them engineer something else and experiment with us with absolutely no liability for what results?  No, thank you. 

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 12:44 AM

My common-sense strategy is to never us any new drug or vaccine until it has been in use a very long time without incident.  Don't even mention it to me before it is 20+years old, without incident.

It's worked well so far. 

Quoting Sisteract:

These results suggest a novel strategy that could potentially form a primary component of a universal influenza vaccine capable of providing long-lasting protection.

 

Conversely, how much research will need to be done to ensure that the combo is not in any way caustic.


 

meriana
by Platinum Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Could work...until the virus's mutate yet again. Most likely by the time they get all the research done, the virus's will have mutated so many times, their new and wonderful protection will be about as effective as today's flu shot. I sometimes think the vaccines play a part in the mutation of the virus's (or course medical science would vehemently deny that possiblity) and if so, then all this playing around making new vaccines is,at least in part, responsible for stronger strains emerging  

katinahat
by Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Lol how do you expect it to be used for 20+ years if no one uses it initially?

Quoting TranquilMind:

My common-sense strategy is to never us any new drug or vaccine until it has been in use a very long time without incident.  Don't even mention it to me before it is 20+years old, without incident.

It's worked well so far. 

Quoting Sisteract:

These results suggest a novel strategy that could potentially form a primary component of a universal influenza vaccine capable of providing long-lasting protection.


Conversely, how much research will need to be done to ensure that the combo is not in any way caustic.





____________________________________________________________

Christian, vaccinating, fun-loving, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, positive disciplining, nerdy, extended rear-facing, bookworm, creative, outdoorsy, autodidactic, friendly family.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -- Mother Teresa

katinahat
by Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM

This vaccine strategy is one step closer to being adaptable to virus mutations. It covers a wider swath than the traditional single-method approach. Why criticize the vaccine for improving?

Quoting meriana:

Could work...until the virus's mutate yet again. Most likely by the time they get all the research done, the virus's will have mutated so many times, their new and wonderful protection will be about as effective as today's flu shot. I sometimes think the vaccines play a part in the mutation of the virus's (or course medical science would vehemently deny that possiblity) and if so, then all this playing around making new vaccines is,at least in part, responsible for stronger strains emerging  



____________________________________________________________

Christian, vaccinating, fun-loving, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, positive disciplining, nerdy, extended rear-facing, bookworm, creative, outdoorsy, autodidactic, friendly family.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -- Mother Teresa

Sisteract
by Whoopie on Mar. 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM

If this solves the problem of viral mutation, why wouldn't the focus be on the common cold- which leads to pneumonia and other sequelae in frail populations?


katinahat
by Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 2:33 PM

This is specifically targeting influenza and the CD8+ T cells, not the cold virus. However, both are currently being worked on-- this study is just one focused on combating influenza. Nothing wrong with trying to beat multiple things :)

Quoting Sisteract:

If this solves the problem of viral mutation, why wouldn't the focus be on the common cold- which leads to pneumonia and other sequelae in frail populations?




____________________________________________________________

Christian, vaccinating, fun-loving, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, positive disciplining, nerdy, extended rear-facing, bookworm, creative, outdoorsy, autodidactic, friendly family.

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." -- Mother Teresa

PinkParadox
by Bronze Member on Mar. 18, 2013 at 2:41 PM
Watch out zombie apocalypse..
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