NOV 25, 2022 8:42 AM PST

How a Multivalent Flu Vaccine Could Fight Against Future Pandemics

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed an experimental mRNA vaccine that protects against all known subtypes of the influenza virus. In total, the experimental multivalent vaccine protects against 20 influenza subtypes. 

Current flu vaccines protect against several recently circulating strains but would not be expected to protect against an emerging pandemic influenza strain. Influenza viruses have the potential to cause pandemics with substantial death tolls. Notably, the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic killed at least 50 million people worldwide. 

The 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic was a result of an influenza virus that began circulating in birds and later jumped to humans. This allowed the virus to accumulate various mutations that made it highly pathogenic. 

The experimental mRNA influenza vaccine developed at the University of Pennsylvania seeks to stimulate a broader immune response that could protect against novel pandemic influenza strains in the future. The experimental vaccine would elicit a memory immune response that could help the immune system fight a novel influenza strain. Still, it would not provide the type of sterilizing immunity that prevents a viral infection from occurring in the first place. 

Senior study author Scott Hensley says that “it would be comparable to first-generation SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines, which were targeted to the original Wuhan strain of the coronavirus. Against later variants such as Omicron, these original vaccines did not fully block viral infections, but they continue to provide durable protection against severe disease and death.”

Experimental results show that the multivalent vaccine was effective in eliciting the production of a key flu virus protein called the hemagglutinin protein. In mice, the vaccine led to high levels of antibodies which reacted strongly to all 20 flu subtypes and remained elevated for at least four months. 

“The idea here is to have a vaccine that will give people a baseline level of immune memory to diverse flu strains so that there will be far less disease and death when the next flu pandemic occurs,” Hensley said.

Sources: Penn Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
NOV 18, 2022
Neuroscience
Dopamine and Aversive Events
Dopamine and Aversive Events
Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience examined how the dopamine system processes aversive, or unplea ...
NOV 19, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Research Shows How Bacteria Could Help Tumors Progress and Resist Treatment
New Research Shows How Bacteria Could Help Tumors Progress and Resist Treatment
New research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle postulates that certain bacteria significantly impact the ...
NOV 30, 2022
Technology
New Tool Locates Origin of Epileptic Seizures, Improving Treatment
New Tool Locates Origin of Epileptic Seizures, Improving Treatment
Epilepsy, a condition that causes regular seizures, affects about 65 million people around the globe. Despite treatment ...
DEC 09, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Affordable Device Uses Light Beams to Detect Malaria
Affordable Device Uses Light Beams to Detect Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness that causes flu-like illness and high fevers. Though illness and death from malaria ...
JAN 03, 2023
Clinical & Molecular DX
Antimicrobial Peptides: The Solution to Antimicrobial Resistance?
Antimicrobial Peptides: The Solution to Antimicrobial Resistance?
According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance is among the top ten global health threats facing h ...
JAN 19, 2023
Cancer
Discovering Ancestral Cancer Ties
Discovering Ancestral Cancer Ties
Epidemiological evidence has established that race and ethnicity play a role in the incidence of several types of cancer ...
Loading Comments...