Has the thought of getting a sharp, metal object poked into your arm kept you from going in for your annual flu vaccine? What if we told you just one shot could insure you for the rest of your life? Good news--it may be coming to a pharmacy near you.
Though a possible release date has yet to be announced for the evergreen vaccine, researchers working on the proposed "lifetime vaccine" reported a significant update earlier this week. The general science behind their progress is pretty simple: flu vaccines today trigger immunity against a protein called haemagglutinin. While the head of this protein is an annoying little shapeshifter, the stem doesn't change. However, due to the stem's hard-to-reach location, our current vaccines only attack the head of the molecule.
Not only would a vaccine designed to go for the stem be the perfect one-hit cure for our annual fall time anxieties, it might also help prevent a pandemic flu.
According to Professor John Oxford, a flu expert at the University of London, "This is a leap forward compared to anything done recently. They have good animal data, not just in mice but in ferrets and monkeys too. And they've done it with the bird flu virus H5N1. It's a very good stepping stone. Ultimately, the hope is to get a vaccine that will cover a pandemic virus."