A flu vaccine that lasts decades possible

A flu vaccine that lasts decades is possible to make and could offer protection from many different flu virus strains.

A flu vaccine that lasts decades is possible to make and could offer protection from many different flu virus strains, according to Anthony Fauci and Gary J. Nabel of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers say that a ‘universal flu vaccine’ could be developed by better understanding of the entire structure of flu virus, which they contrast to today’s methods of focusing on the composition of the round-shaped head of the flu protein called hemagglutinin (HA), which grips onto the host cell to be infected.

Influenza A infects a host cell when hemagglutinin grips onto its surface. (NIH)

Future vaccinations, write Drs. Fauci and Nabel, could aim at producing antibodies that target the stem of the HA protein, which they add have shown encouraging results in animal studies with an experimental version of the universal vaccine. It remains unclear when such a vaccine might be available to the public.

Jorge Salazar