Each year, the flu vaccine has to be redesigned to account for mutations that the virus accumulates, and even then, the vaccine is often not fully protective for everyone.
Researchers at MIT and the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard are now working on strategies for designing a universal flu vaccine that could work against any flu strain. In a study appearing today, they describe a vaccine that triggers an immune response against an influenza protein segment that rarely mutates but is normally not targeted by the immune system.
The vaccine consists of nanoparticles coated with flu proteins that train the immune system to create the desired antibodies. In studies of mice with humanized immune systems, the researchers showed that their vaccine can elicit an antibody response targeting that elusive protein segment, raising the possibility that the vaccine could be effective against any flu strain.