Ferrets Lead the Way TO A Universal "Flu" vaccine
Sep 2023: Each year the influenza ("flu") virus infects 3 to 5 million people globally, resulting in 290,000 to 650,000 deaths (World Health Organization).
New flu virus strains appear each year, so a new vaccine must be made to match those strains predicted to be most likely to cause flu during the current year's flu season. As a result, flu vaccine efficacy has varied widely from year to year.
Domestic ferrets are known to catch the flu and are, therefore, the animal of choice to test safety and efficacy of new flu vaccines.
PDS Biotechnology Corporation, a New-Jersey-based company, announced that its data in ferrets with its investigational flu vaccine PDS0202 is to be presented at the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza conference (Sep 17-20, 2023, Valencia, Spain).
In its goal to produce a “universal” flu vaccine—one that could eliminate the need to create a new flu vaccine every year, the company tested PDS0202 in ferrets. Ferrets with no prior immunity against the influenza virus (“pre-immune”) were exposed to the H1N1 and H3N2 flu viruses, two well-known strains from the last decade. The animals were monitored to see if they produced blood (seroprotective) antibody responses against these two strains.
The investigational PDS0202 vaccine represents a new generation of flu vaccines. Based on the company’s proprietary Infectimune™ technology with proprietary Computationally Optimized Broadly Reactive Antigen (COBRA) hemagglutinin (HA) flu proteins, the new flu vaccine may be able to provide long-lasting and broad protection against multiple strains of the virus.
Prior lab studies demonstrated that PDS0202 can produce a strong immune response: broadly neutralizing influenza-specific antibodies, flu-specific CD4 (helper) and CD8 (killer) T-cells, as well as long-lasting memory T-cells. This well-characterized and robust immune response to the COBRA antigens suggests good potential for broad and long-term protection against multiple strains of influenza.
The data will be presented at the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI) Conference. ESWI, to be held September 17-20, 2023, in Valencia, Spain, with the hope that future human trials will soon follow.
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