Right in the heart of the flu season, many people may still be wondering if they should get the 2019-2020 flu shot.
But, before this season even ends, researchers are looking to improve the vaccine in the coming years. A new study, conducted by Georgia State has promising new outcomes in preventing six trains of the flu in mice.
This new vaccine is a combination vaccine, using nanoparticles, and two different influenza proteins. The success of this vaccine in preventing strains in mice could lead us closer to developing a universal flu vaccine in the future.
How are Nanoparticles Being Used?
Georgia State’s vaccine is unique from other flu vaccinations, because it uses nanoparticles. The shot contains two influenza virus proteins: ectodomain (M2e) and neuraminidase (NA). Most vaccines have never focused on using NA, which is making a difference in this vaccine’s effectiveness and could lead to a universal flu vaccine in the future.
In the Georgia State study, mice received the nanoparticle vaccine by intramuscular injection. Afterwards, they were exposed to one of six different influenza virus strains. The mice were then protected against all six strains up to four months after the immunization.
Could This Lead To A Universal Flu Vaccine?
So far, it’s been hard or even nearly impossible to create a universal flu vaccine.
The biggest hurdle to clear is in the way our immune systems respond to viruses. The immune system reacts to different viruses in new ways, with every virus being different. Because the virus mutates constantly, even the immune system’s memory cells can’t keep up with new flu strains.
Due to this, it hasn’t been possible to create a vaccination that will work for longer than one flu season. But, if it was possible to train our immune system to remember what it has learned during past flu viruses, then a universal flu vaccine could become a reality.
This study shows some promise in building a universal flu vaccine due to its makeup.
The M2e protein in this vaccine is in all influenza virus strains. The NA protein is also found on the surface of the virus. This new nanoparticle vaccine uses both to create a double-layer of protection of proteins that are present in all flu strains.
Researchers are planning to continue their study of this nanoparticle vaccine and hope to start testing it using micro needle patches for skin vaccinations.
If you still need to get a flu shot for the 2019-2020 season, there’s still time. Contact Passport Health by scheduling an appointment online or call at . Passport Health also offers on-site flu clinics.
Written for Passport Health by Kaitlyn Luckow. Kaitlyn is a freelance writer, photographer and English teacher in Milwaukee. She has a passion for capturing and writing other people’s stories. You can find her at sayhellostory.com.