08 November, 2017
Researchers around the world, including at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), are pursuing a "universal" flu vaccine, one that would protect against most or all seasonal and pandemic strains of the flu virus. Most flu vaccine proteins are purified from a virus grown in chicken eggs, although a small fraction of flu vaccine proteins are produced in systems that do not involve eggs. "A universal flu vaccine based on the stalk would be more broadly protective than the ones we use now, but this information should be taken into account as we move forward with research and development".
Conventional vaccines are reportedly less than 60% effective-and that's only when they're matched with the now circulating strain.
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that the flu causes about 3,500 deaths each year in Canada alone.
A nurse vaccinates U.S. President Barack Obama against the H1N1 flu at the White House in 2009.
The vaccine for the season 2017-2018 is similar to that of 2016, which bodes for a season "difficult if it is again dominated by the H3N2 viruses", said Scott Hensley, a professor at the faculty of medicine Perelman university of Pennsylvania and the lead author of this work, recommending however the vaccination. For example they may have got a food vaccine and got sick anyway.
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The goal is to combine the desired HA and NA antigens from the target strain (flu strain 1) with genes from a harmless strain that grows well in an egg (flu strain 2).
"Some of the hospitals in York Region have developed their own in-house campaign and have accessed our staff to support them in providing infection prevention and control education on the importance of influenza immunizations", the email said.
The current strain of H3N2 emerged during the 2014-15 flue season and remains prevalent today. Interestingly, the sugar-adorned viruses are not found in vaccines made using other methods.
The vaccines effectiveness in mice is an encouraging sign, but a lot more testing needs to be done before it could become commercially available. "Our data suggest that we should invest in new technologies that allow us to ramp up production of influenza vaccines that are not reliant on eggs".