Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
The upcoming season’s flu vaccine will protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.
Pandemic influenza outbreaks are major threat to global public health. Such pandemic outbreaks present the potential for sudden emergence and explosive transmission of virus strains to which humans have little or no serologic immunity. Many of these virus strains cause life-treating disease in people or severe illness that often requires hospitalization of infected patients. The most efficient way to prevent severe disease related to influenza virus infection is the vaccination of susceptible population. Accordingly, conventional influenza vaccines function by inducing antibodies against the highly variable surface glycoproteins hemagglutinin (HA) that contributes mostly to reducing the virus infectivity and spreading in the infected host. Currently, the production of this type of a vaccine takes at least six months to prepare and distribute once a potential pandemic strain has been identified. This was highlighted by the 2009 swine origin H1N1 pandemic virus during which this newly emergent virus was identified in April but sufficient vaccine for mass immunization was not available until October. Meanwhile the virus spread and the need for a vaccine was in demand. This demonstrates a need for the development of a universal influenza vaccine that can be produced and stockpiled for use, especially in high-risk populations requiring immediate vaccination that induces the protective effects of cellular and humoral immune responses against influenza.
Etubics is developing a universal vaccine against influenza. We will construct and evaluate a new vaccine containing conserved and consensus influenza proteins that will induce broad immune responses against influenza resulting in a wide breadth of protection against various subtypes of influenza viruses. Funding for our influenza vaccine product is from a grant awarded by the N.I.H.