FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012
In the quest for a universal influenza vaccine—one that elicits broadly neutralizing antibodies that can protect against most or all strains of flu virus—scientists have faced a sobering question: Does pre-existing immunity generated by prior exposure to influenza virus or vaccine hamper production of broadly neutralizing antibodies? If so, then a universal flu vaccine might work best (and perhaps only) in very young children who have had limited exposure to influenza viruses or vaccines.
Now, in studies using mice and ferrets, investigators from the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown that broadly neutralizing influenza antibodies can indeed be elicited by a prime-boost vaccine regimen, even when the animals had pre-existing immunity to influenza. The vaccine regimen consisted of a DNA vaccine prime followed by boosting with an inactivated seasonal vaccine. It did not matter if the pre-existing immunity was due to exposure to a flu virus or if it followed vaccination with standard seasonal influenza vaccine. Influenza-immune ferrets inoculated with the prime-boost regimen were protected against challenge with unmatched influenza virus strains. If the same effect is found in studies in people, it might be possible to develop vaccines that give long-lasting flu protection to people of all ages, according to the researchers. Several clinical trials to examine the ability of first-generation universal flu vaccines to generate broadly neutralizing antibodies are either under way or planned at the VRC.
C-H Wei et al. Elicitation of broadly neutralizing influenza antibodies in animals with previous influenza exposure. Science Translational Medicine DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004273 (2012).
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is available to comment. Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D, director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center, and the senior author of the paper, is also available.
To schedule interviews, please contact Anne A. Oplinger, (301) 402-1663, email@example.com.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of
infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News
releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health ®
back to top
Last Updated August 15, 2012
Last Reviewed August 15, 2012