Single Jab Against All Flu Strains By '13
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17 July 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Shot Developed By US Scientists Can Help Do Away With Practice Of Annual Immunization
A single jab to protect you from all strains of flu – both seasonal and pandemic and not just for one season but for decades – could become a reality soon.
Doctors at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Maryland, USA, have developed the two–stage flu shot. One of the shots is a booster that can combat all strains of influenza for decades, and, in turn, can help do away with the current practice of annual immunization programmes.
In experiments conducted on mice, ferrets and monkeys, a two–step immunization approach was adopted to elicit infectionfighting antibodies that attack a diverse array of influenza virus strains. Current flu vaccines do not generate such broadly neutralizing antibodies. So they must be re–formulated annually to match the predominant virus strains circulating each year.
The research – led by NIAID scientist Gary J Nabel – appeared in the journal ‘Science Express’ on July 15.
“Generating broadly neutralizing antibodies to multiple strains of influenza in animals through vaccination is an important milestone in the quest for a universal influenza vaccine,” said NIAID director Anthony S Fauci.
This significant advance lays the groundwork for the development of a vaccine to provide long–lasting protection against any strain of influenza. A durable and effective universal influenza vaccine would have enormous ramifications for the control of influenza, a disease that claims an estimated five lakh lives annually across the globe.
Early safety trials of this jab have already started and the vaccine could be tested on humans as early as 2013.
Low–cost meningitis A vaccine developed
Serum Institute of India has developed an indigenous low–cost vaccine to fight meningitis A. Priced at Rs 150, as compared to the existing imported vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur that costs Rs 1,050 per dose, it will be available in India only next year. The SII’s vaccine is part of the Meningitis Vaccine Project – a partnership between WHO, non–profit organisation PATH and SII. The project was launched in 2003. SII’s executive director S S Jadhav told TOI, ‘‘The new vaccine opens up a world of new possibilities. It is going to be a game changer to prevent meningitis A epidemics in the future.’’
Meningitis is one of the world’s most dreaded infectious diseases. Even with antibiotic treatment, at least 10% of patients die with another 10 to 20% left with permanent problems, such as mental retardation, deafness or epilepsy.