Influenza is a completely unpredictable virus.People assume it to be a dominant trait in the winters, but that is far from the truth. Dozens of different strains of influenza can be found all around the world and can attack at any time of the year.
This is one of the reasons why scientists in the USA are working towards a very big step in a world dictated by progress, in which we humans are living in. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), are channeling all their tireless efforts into developing a vaccine for universal flu protection.
About the project:
The research has been recently published on the scientific journal “Science.” Ren Sun study’s senior author along with a group of renowned researchers have been working for 4 years at UCLA, trying to develop this astonishing flu vaccine. The scientists are looking forward to achieving a universal flu protection. This could potentially lead to a reduced risk of spreading influenza around the globe.
During this research, they experimented new and innovative ways of approaching the development of flu vaccines. Instead of building a map of probabilities, which is the basic way of proceeding, Ren Sun and his researcher colleagues used a series of “sequencing methods and genetic engineering” to design a virus that could be used as a vaccine.
The worldwide question is: how can this be possible?
How was this project made possible?
They developed a new virus, made from multiple strains of different influenza viruses. These were nothing but mutations of a genome that inhibit or enhance the host’s response. In the process of researching, 8 different mutations have been identified. All of them are sensitive to a specific type of protein which is located in the immune system, called ‘interferons’. Given the name, their function is quite clear: they are proteins that interfere with the spreading of the virus in the immune system.
Their work is fundamental, as they send a signal to the surrounding host cells, that immediately turn on the protective genes that debilitate the virus. This process guarantees a certain “genetic memory”, that will create a long-lasting protection from the virus. In fact, common flu viruses use a mechanism that assures them to avoid the immune system.
This particular strain of influenza comes by the name “hyper-interferon-sensitive” (HIS) which, as mentioned before,is “hypersensitive to one of the body’s primary immune defense mechanism” said the “Science” report.
Until now, the vaccine has been tested on animals commonly used in scientific labs, such as ferrets and mice, and they responded quite well to the nose vaccine.In fact, they did not sport any sign of illness or uneasiness. Unfortunately, human tests are still not available and have been said that there are more tests to be carried out further on animals.
How effective is the vaccine?
The most interesting fact about this vaccine is that it is capable of lasting for at least 5 years, instead of common 1/2 years vaccines, guaranteeing a full virus cover.
However, when we talk about medicine and new discoveries, there is one particular entity that plays a very important role in the game: The World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO is very concerned about flu, as it affects millions of people every year. For people who already suffer from severe illnesses, the flu could be even more lethal.
Having said all that, this new virus comes as a piece of highly engineered medical research and, sooner or later, it will be definitely be put out on commerce.
Finally, it is just a matter of time, and we will be all able to purchase this universal flu protection. This will allow us not only to avoid seasonal illnesses but also travel and carry out daily activities in a safer way as well.