Current flu vaccines rely on health authorities being able to predict what the forthcoming viral strain is going to be, and reformulating the vaccines each year accordingly. A simple and totally synthetic universal vaccine – one that is not derived from an influenza virus and does not require annual reformulation – would have clear advantages in health clinics to control and prevent the spread of flu.
Darren Miller and colleagues, University of Adelaide, Australia, have developed peptides based on alpha-galactosylceramide (αGalCer), which can be delivered to the noses of mice. The peptides trigger an immune response to a region of the flu virus that is present in all influenza A and B viruses. The test vaccine provided mice with 100 % protection against a laboratory strain of virus (H3N2) and 20 % protection against strain H5N1, also known as “bird flu”, which is consistent with the protection levels achieved with commercially available anti-influenza drugs.
- Preclinical efficacy studies of influenza A haemagglutinin precursor loop peptides as a potential vaccine
D. Miller, J. Finnie, T. Bowden, A. Scholz, S. Oh, T. Kok, C. Burrell, L. Trinidad, D. Boyle, P. Li,
J. Gen. Virol. 2011.