VANCOUVER – University of B.C. researchers led a team of scientists that have found that swine flu vaccine triggers antibodies that protect against many flu viruses including the lethal bird-flu strain.
The results support the idea that there is a way to develop universal flu vaccines which would eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccines, said UBC.
The details of the research were published today in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Immunology, the journal of the International Union of Immunological Societies.
Vaccines contain bits of weak or dead germs that prompt the human immune system to produce antibodies that circulate in the blood to kill those specific germs, noted researchers, led by professor John Schrader, Canada Research Chair in Immunology and director of UBC’s Biomedical Research Centre.
However, the research team found that the 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine induced broadly protective antibodies capable of fighting different variants of the flu virus.
That’s because the antibodies attacked the stem of a protein in the flu virus rather than the head of the virus, which is like the flower on the stem, said Schrader.
“The stem plays such an integral role in penetrating the cell that it cannot change between different variants of the flu virus,” Schrader said in a press release.
The research team included scientists from UBC, the Universities of Ottawa and Toronto, the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Seasonal flu is a serious illness effecting from three to five million people each year, causing 200,000 to 500,000 deaths.
The 2009 H1NI pandemic killed more than 14,000 people worldwide, noted UBC researchers.
© The Vancouver Sun
Read it on Global News: Global News | UBC researchers make flu vaccine discovery, could eliminate need for seasonal shots