Why don’t we yet have a universal flu vaccine?


By all accounts, the 2017–18 influenza season has been a bad one. It feels like everyone’s family has been hit, sometimes twice. Schools have had to shut down to disinfect; hospitals are overcrowded.

A major reason this flu season has been so rough is that the vaccine just wasn’t that good.

[Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases] and many other flu experts argue what’s really needed is a so-called universal flu vaccine. Ideally, this kind of immunization would provide protection against all flu strains and would last for years, maybe even for someone’s entire lifetime. The tricky ways the virus mutates make it a tough proposition. But around 20 companies and government agencies are chipping away at it, using a range of strategies and technologies to create broadly protective flu vaccines. Some are even being tested in the clinic.

“It turns out to be a pretty challenging goal,” says Jesse Bloom, who studies the molecular evolution of viruses at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The problem begins with flu’s ability to change faster than most other infectious diseases. Bloom explains that the flu virus can make small tweaks to the two main proteins on its surface: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase.

“It’s conceptually simple but technically difficult,” says Neil King, a biochemistry professor at the University of Washington who designs nanomaterials for use in potential universal flu vaccines.

Read full, original post: In search of a universal flu vaccine

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend