Universal flu vaccine a few years off

Nov. 9, 2011 at 12:18 AM
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ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 9 (UPI) -- A privately owned drug group in Britain said a single vaccine is effective against all influenza strains.

Gregory Stoloff, chief executive officer at the drug group SEEK, said FLU-v is the first of a new class of breakthrough T cell vaccines that are anticipated to be effective against the highly mutagenic influenza virus.

It has been developed to provide a single vaccination which is effective against all strains of influenza virus, including pandemic strains, Stoloff said.

The trial was a challenge study in which healthy volunteers were exposed to a mild strain of flu. Vaccinated subjects showed significantly lower symptom scores and viral titre levels compared with non-vaccinated subjects, Stoloff said.

In addition and most critically, blood cells from vaccinated subjects showed a cross-reactive immunity to a range of influenza viruses including both animal and human A and B strains.

This demonstrates a significant breadth of response and thus the potential for a universal vaccine able to protect people against both annual flu and pandemic strains.

"These data, coming so soon after the excellent Phase Ib/II HIV trial results obtained using the same technology platform, validate SEEK's approach and methodology used in selecting its vaccine components, and demonstrates that effective and well tolerated vaccines can be produced against highly-mutating viruses," Stoloff said in a statement.

SEEK's Universal Flu vaccine could be available for use, subject to regulatory approval, in the next three to five years, Stoloff said.

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