No more annual flu shot? New target for universal influenza vaccine

A new antibody discovered in the blood of some people vaccinated against or infected with influenza can recognize a broad variety of flu viruses.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Scientists at Scripps Research, University of Chicago and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have identified a new Achilles’ heel of influenza virus, making progress in the quest for a universal flu vaccine. Antibodies against a long-ignored section of the virus, which the team dubbed the anchor, have the potential to recognize a broad variety of flu strains, even as the virus mutates from year to year, they reported Dec. 23, 2021 in the journal Nature.

“It’s always very exciting to discover a new site of vulnerability on a virus because it paves the way for rational vaccine design,” says co-senior author Andrew Ward, PhD, professor of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at Scripps Research. “It also demonstrates that despite all the years and effort of influenza vaccine research there are still new things to discover.”

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