The universal vaccine could protect people against more strains of flu

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced that it has begun dosing patients in a phase 1 clinical trial of a new influenza (flu) vaccine candidate, FluMos-v2, to evaluate the vaccine for safety and its ability to elicit an immune response.

Designed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center (VRC), FluMos-v2 works to induce antibodies against various influenza strains by displaying part of the influenza virus haemagglutinin (HA) protein in repeating patterns on self-assembling nanoparticle scaffolds, preparing the immune system to recognise and fight the actual virus.

Sponsored by NIAID, the trial is expected to enrol 24 healthy individuals, aged 18 to 50 years, to receive two intramuscular injections of the vaccine candidate, 16 weeks apart.

The researchers aim to enrol 12 participants in a lower dose group (60mcg per vaccination) and a higher dose group (180mcg per vaccination).

Enrolment will begin in the higher dose group if no safety concerns are identified after at least three participants have received the lower dose.

By the 40-week mark, participants who have received their first vaccination will receive regular follow-ups and examinations to track their responses to the experimental vaccine.
Blood samples will also be taken to measure immune responses to the vaccine candidate.

Each year, flu vaccines are re-evaluated and changed to match the strains that are predicted to be most dominant during the flu season and usually train the immune system to fight off three or four strains of flu.

The researchers hope that the universal flu vaccine may someday provide protection against many more.

"An ideal universal influenza vaccine could be taken less frequently than once a year and protect against multiple strains of influenza virus. With each new universal influenza vaccine candidate and clinical trial, we take another step closer to that goal," said acting NIAID director, Hugh Auchincloss.