The world’s first widespread human testing of a flu vaccine which researchers hope will protect more over 65-year-olds against influenza has begun in the NHS.
More than 10,000 people aged 65 and over will be asked to take part in a study supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and delivered by the University of Oxford in Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The recruitment target is 500. Researchers believe the vaccine could have a major impact on the worldwide fight against the virus, which affects about a billion people worldwide a year with 250,000 to 500,000 annual deaths, mainly in the over-65 age group. Current vaccines are only effective in 30 to 40% of over 65s as the immune system weakens with age and researchers believe the new vaccine could increase this. For those who receive the jab but still get the flu, researchers believe the new vaccine could also reduce the severity and duration of the illness.
It is believed the vaccine will offer a stronger protection against flu because it uses a different mechanism to get the body to protect against the virus. Under the microscope, the flu virus looks like a spherical cushion with lots of pins sticking out of it. The existing flu vaccines use surface proteins that lie on the outside of flu cells – the heads of the pins – to stimulate the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies. But as the virus changes each year, so do the surface proteins, haemagglutinin and neuraminidase, meaning the flu vaccine needs to change too.
Global scientists therefore have to predict what each new annual strain of flu will look like. Unfortunately, sometimes by the time the vaccine has been made, the strain of virus that is causing illness has changed, and the vaccine doesn’t work well. The new vaccine is different as it uses the core proteins of the virus –inside the cushion – instead of the surface proteins. These core proteins remain virtually unchanged in all influenza A viruses, giving researchers the opportunity to create vaccines that will work against all of them. Humans get infected by both influenza A and B, but it is influenza A that causes the majority of severe illnesses and deaths.
Crucially, the new vaccine stimulates the immune system to boost influenza-specific T-cells, instead of antibodies, that kill the virus as it tries to spread through the body. Everyone has some influenza-specific T cells already, but numbers of them are often too low to be protective. Previous research found that these T-cells can help fight more than one type of flu virus, and researchers believe this means more people could be protected and the severity and duration of flu may be reduced.
About 10,000 over 65s registered at six GP practices will be asked to take part in the trial in Berkshire and Oxfordshire this winter. This includes 25 people who will be sought for extra blood tests at the university. They will receive the regular, annual immunisation in combination with the new vaccine, which has successfully undergone safety testing in 145 people, or the regular immunisation and a placebo shot, so the two can be compared. Patients will not be told whether they are receiving the new vaccine or placebo.
The vaccine was developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute with Vaccitech, a spin-out company from the institute. The study is being sponsored by Vaccitech and managed by the University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences with support from the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, a Department of Health-funded organisation which provides staffing to ensure research studies are run in the health service.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the University and co-founder of Vaccitech, said: ‘Every year, flu in older adults causes serious illness and sometimes death. We want to improve the situation, but in order to do that we need volunteers to help us test a new vaccine. If you are invited to take part, please consider doing so.’
Learn more: World-first trial for universal flu vaccine
The Latest on: Universal flu vaccine
- Fauci ‘plotting’ for a new flu virus to force vaccinations? Pants on Fireon October 14, 2021 at 1:55 pm
Fauci’s comments about researchers’ pursuit of a new type of flu vaccine were made at a public event, recorded and posted by C-SPAN. The reference to a “universal” flu vaccine meant one that could ...
- New model leveraging flu data generates highly accurate prediction of COVID-19 spreadon October 14, 2021 at 11:00 am
COVID-19 is not the flu. The disease caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is more transmissible, and deadlier, than most influenza epidemics we've encountered in our lifetimes, and scientists and ...
- Influenza Vaccines Market to surpass USD 6.0 Billion with Growing at a CAGR of 4.4% by Forecast 2025 | GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, MedImmmune LLCon October 14, 2021 at 6:12 am
As part of major organic initiatives by market participants, a rising pipeline product will be developed into a new vaccine product. For example, in 2017, the MHRA approved Seqirus’ FLAUD, the first ...
- Your health means everything – protect it by getting vaccinated for flu seasonon October 13, 2021 at 12:15 pm
Shorter days and cooler temperatures are tell-tale signs that autumn has arrived. Unfortunately, another sign of the season is the beginning of increased flu activity. Flu season can last from ...
- Living with Covid is not an option in New Zealand – we need near universal vaccinationon October 12, 2021 at 5:28 am
Allowing the virus to become endemic would mean the regular closure of schools and businesses and thousands of deaths each year ...
- First, Impressive Vaccines for COVID. Next Up: The Flu.on October 11, 2021 at 12:01 pm
As the world grapples with COVID-19, influenza is not getting much attention these days. But the flu’s global impact is staggering: 3 million to 5 million cases of severe illness every year and up to ...
- Vaccine makers bet on mRNA technology to improve future flu shotson October 11, 2021 at 10:34 am
Vaccine makers are leading studies using mRNA technology, which made the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines possible, in hopes of creating more effective flu shots in the future, The New York ...
- Essentia Health stresses importance of flu shotson October 11, 2021 at 6:33 am
Ahead of a flu season that many health experts believe could be severe, Essentia Health is offering several options for flu shots.
- Potential Universal Coronavirus Vaccine Provides Broad Protection In Miceon October 8, 2021 at 8:17 am
A vaccine designed to produce immunity against the most stable portion of coronaviruses has been found to neutralize viruses in mice. If the work can be tr ...
- Antibody recognition of a highly conserved influenza virus epitope: implications for universal prevention and therapyon October 7, 2021 at 7:36 am
Influenza virus presents a significant and persistent threat to public health worldwide and current vaccines provide immunity to viral isolates similar to the vaccine strain. High affinity antibodies ...
via Google News and Bing News