The January blues are no myth but when they come with a flu on the go, the beginning of a new year is definitely bitter-sweet. It’s about now that you regret not going for the flu shot. But this year will be different, right? Well, what do you say if in the next years you’ll no longer need reminders for it? A DNA shot could be the key to a one-time, one-dose flu vaccine #todaymagic
As the flu virus modifies from year to year, we’re forced to get annual flu shots. At least, that’s what we knew. It seems that scientists have found a way to avoid the repetitive procedure. Researchers led by Prof. Deborah Fuller from the University of Washington developed a DNA vaccine that should be the key to a universal flu shot. The team explains that it’s all about the differences; while the flu vaccine is grown in eggs, only to be inactivated afterwards and injected, the DNA one is produced into the human body. The genetic code for proteins from the virus is read by a person’s cells and then used to make antigens. The moment they’re perceived by the immune system, our body can start fighting against the infection.
Another difference concerns the timeline of producing the vaccine. A flu shot takes nine months to make and is works for the most probable forms of influenza that are going to hit the population in the following year. But the DNA one can be made in just three months and, therefore, can work on more than a pediciton.
Does it work? Scientists explain that they have tested it on monkeys in a replication of 2009′ influenza pandemic. During that year, the industry was faced with a new strain and current flu shots were useless. So, the team reenacted that situation using that flu shot but with an extra genetic code for conserved influenza antigens. Thanks to the DNA vaccine, monkeys’ organisms had an increased protection against the influenza: “These results indicate inflammatory responses were more rapidly resolved in the vaccinated animals than in the controls, an outcome that is consistent with the vaccine mediating more rapid viral clearance.”
When will the one-dose flu shot come to market? Prof. Fuller says it’s expecting it in the following 5-10 years. Meanwhile, the team is hard at work developing a “gene gun” that can inject the vaccines.