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A Universal Flu Vaccine? Human Trials Have Begun

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Earlier this month researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ("NIAID") initiated clinical trials for a universal influenza vaccine known as H1ssF_3928. The structure of the vaccine is designed to create protections throughout the body against numerous types of influenza, as the virus strain varies from year to year. Scientists are hopeful that they will be able to create a universal vaccine for all age groups to fight against influenza strains worldwide, especially worrisome pandemic subtypes.

A total of 53 healthy adults are taking part in the study which is being held in Bethesda, Maryland. Five of the 53 will receive a single 20mcg dose of the vaccine, while the remaining 48 participants will receive two 60mcg doses approximately 16 weeks apart. Researchers will periodically draw samples of blood from the participants to determine levels of anti-influenza antibodies which can be representative of a body’s immune response to the influenza virus. In addition, each participant will be required to log any symptoms or adverse reactions they experience into a diary for the duration of the trial.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, spoke of the importance behind the quest for a universal flu vaccine by saying, “seasonal influenza is a perpetual public health challenge, and we continually face the possibility of an influenza pandemic resulting from the emergence and spread of novel influenza viruses.” It’s also important to note that the experimental vaccine does not contain any strains of the influenza virus, but rather ingredients that mimic the organization of the influenza virus.