Flu vaccine isn’t too common in the Philippines. Some don’t know that it exists while others don’t have the financial capability to obtain one.
Researchers from the Johnson & Johnson are working on a long-lasting flu vaccine that could be effective against any type of strains of the virus.
If it would become available, it could eliminate the need to create another vaccine each year.
Currently, the researchers said that they’re making progress in their efforts. They have developed a method that could trigger the immune system to fight various flu subtypes.
Although the method wasn’t tested yet on humans, the approach has proven to be effective when they tested it on rodents and monkeys.
The lab animals produced antibodies against the bird flu H5N1.
The findings of the study were published by Science on Monday. For the scientists working on it,. A few tests will still be conducted to make this long-lasting flu vaccine to work in humans.
The researchers are confident that they’re moving in the right direction to finally uncover a universal flu vaccine.
They target a protein found on surfaces of those flu viruses subtypes. This protein, which is known as hemagglutinin (HA), enables those viruses to enter the cells. The vaccine will target that protein and trigger the immune system to create antibodies against the HA. When that happens, it becomes difficult for the virus to escape.
What’s the Next Step?
The discovery of long-lasting flu might be the answer to our health problem and that pharmaceutical companies don’t have to make new vaccine every year as flu virus mutates.
Now that the researchers have successfully tested this vaccine to animals, their next approach will be to test it to humans to see if it’s effective in people. For these researchers, successful animal findings don’t always translate to humans.
Another study published by the US National Institutes of Health on Monday that showed how animals were protected from the flu virus through a certain vaccine made of nanoparticles. The vaccine also targets the HA protein.
This latest approach is quite different from the flu vaccine, which is available on the market. In the typical vaccine, it only targets the outside structures of the virus. Each year, scientists develop a new vaccine according to the strains of flu that are likely to spread the most.
In 2014 and 2015, the vaccine available wasn’t that good in protecting humans against the strains that have already circulated. That said, it was only effective by up to 18%. US health officials are increasing next season’s flu shot to provide better, broader protection.
Each year, there are 49,000 deaths because of seasonal flu.
The reason for this is that our body’s immunity wears off. And it’s not because the virus mutates easily. This is truly a great challenge that these researchers are facing.
Hopefully, that long-lasting flu vaccine will become available soon and it’ll be distributed to the Philippines too.