By Helin Gao
A recent study led by Stanford researchers and published online on Dec. 16 brings the medical community a step closer towards the creation of a universal flu vaccine.
Led by James Swartz—a professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering—and authored by postdoctoral researcher Yuan Lu and John Welsh M.S. ‘08 Ph.D. ‘11, the research presents a vaccine that covers a broad spectrum of viruses.
Rather than focusing on the heads of hemagglutinin—a protein attached to the influenza virus’ surface—the new vaccine reproduces the stem of the hemagglutinin which largely remains unchanged and allows for a better understanding of the protein’s structure.
While the efficacy of this new vaccine has yet to be seen, researchers aim to create an inactivated virus target to elicit an immune response. If successful, the new approach will shrink the time frame for protein production from weeks to hours.
Before put into practice, the new vaccine has to undergo safety and efficacy tests on animals and eventually humans.