They develop a “very effective” vaccine against the H5N1 avian influenza virus based on mRNA

They develop a “very effective” vaccine against the H5N1 avian influenza virus based on mRNA
They develop a “very effective” vaccine against the H5N1 avian influenza virus based on mRNA

An experimental mRNA vaccine against the H5N1 avian influenza virus may be “very effective” in preventing severe disease and death in preclinical models. In fact, the vaccine could potentially help control the outbreak of the H5N1 virus currently circulating in birds and livestock in the United States, while also preventing human infections, new research suggests.

“The tmRNA technology It allows us to be much more agile in the development of vaccines. We can begin creating an mRNA vaccine within hours of sequencing a new viral strain with pandemic potential,” the authors explain before emphasizing that, “during previous influenza pandemics, such as the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, vaccines were difficult to produce.” manufacture and were not available until after the initial pandemic waves subsided.

Additionally, the authors note that, “before 2020, experts thought the influenza virus posed the greatest risk of causing a pandemic, and we had limited options for creating a vaccine if that had happened.” In this framework, “COVID-19 showed us the power of mRNA-based vaccines as a tool to quickly protect humans from emerging virusesand we are now better prepared to respond to a variety of viruses with pandemic potential, including influenza”

Most of the flu vaccines They are egg-based, where experts inject chicken eggs fertilized with what they predict will be the dominant viral strain; They let it replicate and then inactivate the virus for use in flu vaccines distributed globally. However, viruses must first adapt to replicate in fertilized eggs before these conventional vaccines can be produced, which can take up to six months, presenting potential problems in quickly producing vaccines when they are most needed during the first months of a vaccine. pandemic. In this sense, mRNA vaccines adapt easily and quicklypIt protects against different strains of influenza viruses and does not require eggs for its development.

Against this backdrop, the authors of this study developed an mRNA vaccine targeting a specific subtype of the H5N1 virus that circulates widely in birds and livestock. While it rarely infects humans, some fear the virus could evolve and cause a human pandemic.

The researchers discovered that the vaccine provoked a strong antibody and T cell response in mice and ferrets. What’s more, the animals maintained high levels of antibodies even a year after vaccination. Additionally, the authors cautioned that vaccinated animals that were subsequently infected with H5N1 They eliminated the virus more quickly and showed fewer symptoms than unvaccinated controls. Besides, all vaccinated animals survived after H5N1 infectionwhile all unvaccinated animals died.

Finally, they compared the response to the mRNA vaccine in mice with their response to a traditional egg-based vaccine and found that the mRNA vaccine was equally effective: Both vaccines elicited strong antibody responses, regardless of prior exposure to the vaccine. seasonal flu.

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