Bioinformatics has released a new study announcing two new universal influenza vaccines. Every year, vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million deaths, and scientists hope these new vaccines will protect against global pandemics in the future, saving millions more lives.
“Every year we have a round of flu vaccination, where we choose a recent strain of flu as the vaccine, hoping that it will protect against next year’s strains. We know this method is safe, and that it works reasonably well most of the time.,” said Dr. Derek Gatherer of Lancaster University. “However, it doesn’t work — as in the H3N2 vaccine failure in winter 2014 to 2015 — and even when it does it is immensely expensive and labor intensive. Also, these yearly vaccines give us no protection at all against potential future pandemic flu.”
According to Medical Daily, the global collaboration, which includes teams from universities in Aston, Lancaster, and Madrid, used digital technology to design the vaccine.
Doctors, scientists, and researchers have spent decades researching influenza in an attempt to find an effective cure. It’s recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that anyone older than six months old should get an annual flu shot. It’s estimated that annual flu pandemics cause — on a global scale — half a million deaths. According to Consumer Affairs and the World Health Organization (WHO), in both 1957 and in 1968, flu epidemics caused millions of deaths in those singular years.
“Epitope-based vaccines aren’t new, but most reports have no experimental validation,” said Dr. Daren Flower of Aston University. “We have turned the problem on its head and only use previously-tested epitopes. This allows us to get the best of both world, designing a vaccine with a very high likelihood of success.”
A universal flu vaccine that completely eradicates the disease would truly be one of the most revolutionary discoveries in the history of medical care.