Each and every year, new flu strains seem to emerge, leaving the general public victim to annual epidemics around this virus. Scientists are now working on a ‘one-punch’ universal vaccine that may help when it comes to current mutated strains of influenza and any future ones that may arise.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), flu epidemics annually create three to five million reports of severe illness across the globe, which ultimately results in about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths yearly.
Researchers at the University of Chicago, along with Canada’s McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, and New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have been working on a new study that supports previous research uncovering a group of antibodies that have the capabilities to counteract the most severe classifications of the flu.
These new antibodies work to train an individual’s immune system to sense that part of the flu that is a constant yearly, which would also carve a path towards a one-punch universal flu shot that would only be needed once in someone’s lifetime, yet still create long-lasting effects. Even as the virus mutates, and strains are created, there is one aspect of the flu that is consistently recognizable, and this universal vaccine could help guard an individual against the flu for their entire lives.
Medical News Today reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that individuals six months or older receive the flu shot every year. This vaccine protects people against three to four strains of the flu that research has found to be most common throughout the year. These flu shots go to work by creating antibodies within an individual around two weeks after receiving the vaccine. The antibodies attach themselves to the virus to help avoid it from infecting cells.
As such, these ‘one-punch’ vaccines would react in much the same way; however, they would also convert white blood cells to terminate infected cells. While there are specific antibodies that work in conjunction to employ the white blood cells, other antibodies work to block them. The study team discovered that where the antibodies attach themselves to the virus, makes a world of difference as it relates to this universal vaccine.
Senior author Dr. Matthew Miller, Ph.D., McMaster University notes that the team has now discovered the areas where these antibodies attach themselves to the cells, to be called in; and as such, they can make changes