FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

New study shows promise for development of universal influenza vaccine

A recent study led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital discovered a new approach to the development of an influenza vaccine that has the potential to be used universally against a range of influenza strains.

The study's findings were printed in the online edition of the scientific journal Nature Immunology. The new vaccine technology can protect against some of the most threatening influenza strains, including pandemic strains.

"This study has changed our approach to developing a universal flu vaccine," Study Author and Assistant Mmber of the Department of Immunology at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Maureen McGargill said.

Researchers used rapamycin, a drug responsible for suppressing the immune system, in the development of the vaccine. As a result, the immune response immediately following flu vaccination showed broad-spectrum antibody protection.

Scientists found that the study group was protected against a range of influenza strains that were not deliberately targeted by the vaccine development process. The study gives hope to the development of a universal influenza vaccine, as all other attempts have been unsuccessful to date.

"Instead of trying to enhance a highly specific, targeted immune response, our results show that a more diverse, less focused response provides a broader repertoire of antibodies that target different flu strains," McGargill said.