News / Health

    Human Trials Start for Universal Flu Vaccine

    Multimedia

    Vidushi Sinha

    The World Health Organization says about 500,000 people die every year from seasonal flu. To combat that, doctors recommend getting a flu vaccine at the beginning of each flu season and researchers are now working on a universal vaccine that could protect people from all strains of the flu.  What's more, they say the vaccine could work for several years.

    This pediatrician's office in Atlanta, Georgia is busy taking calls.

    The state of Georgia in southern United Sates has reported the nation's most number of flu cases this year. Influenza viruses are unpredictable and this year, health officials say they are seeing several strains.

    Dr. Jennifer Shu is with Children's Medical Group in Atlanta. "In our office, we are seeing influenza B, plus an influenza A strain, which I believe the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) says most of that circulating right now is H3N2, although there is some that's H1N1," she said.

    To guard against the flu, health officials recommend vaccines before the each  flu season for everyone six months and older .  This year's vaccine protects against all the strains of flu circulating right now, but scientists have to make an educated guess about which flu virus will circulate next year. Then new vaccines will have to be produced .

    Researchers working on the universal flu vaccine say that yearly flu shots will become a thing of the past if a new vaccine proves successful. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Washington.

    "The concept has been proven in mice and ferrets and in monkeys that you can actually do that. It is very likely since studies have already been started in humans that we can illicit that type of immune response in humans," he said.

    When the scientists gave the vaccine to ferrets, the animals produced antibodies that protected them against a wide range of flu strains. Dr. Fauci explains the science of this vaccine.

    "There is a part of the virus called the stem. So if this is the bulb - this is the stem [shows using his hand]. We were able to identify part of this hemagglutinin that doesn't change from one virus to another. So we determined, can you make an antibody response against that stem, and the answer is yes you can," he said.

    Flu viruses can mutate faster than vaccines can be made using current technology.  That's how epidemics get started.

    But researchers say if this universal vaccine is successful in human trials, it will provide protection from all strains of the influenza virus.  What's more, it could be given to children and provide protection over the better part of their lives.
    Again, Dr. Fauci.

    "The work is important because the concept that you could vaccinate with a component of a vaccine of the virus that was a 1999 strain and illicit antibodies that in mice and in ferrets and other animal models protect in everything from 1934 and 2007 is a very important concept," he said.

    In 2009, vaccines were in short supply when the H1N1 circulated around the world. Production was slow because scientists must first grow the virus in millions of eggs, and the process takes a long time.

    But scientists say a universal vaccine will not rely on growing viruses in eggs. They will produce it by using the genetic sequencing of the flu, so it will be available faster, fewer people will get sick and die and it will be much cheaper than producing a new flu vaccine every year.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora