U.S. Starts Clinical Trial for Universal Flu Vaccine

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The United States has started the phase 1 clinical trial of a new investigational universal flu vaccine candidate, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Friday.

The trial, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), will evaluate the investigational vaccine, named FluMos-v2, for safety and its ability to elicit an immune response.

The vaccine candidate was designed by researchers at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center. It is designed to induce antibodies against many different influenza virus strains by displaying part of the influenza virus hemagglutinin protein in repeating patterns on self-assembling nanoparticle scaffolds. Exposure to these harmless fragments of virus proteins prepares the immune system to recognize and fight the actual virus.

When tested in animals, the experimental vaccine resulted in robust antibody responses, according to the NIH.

The new clinical trial is expected to enroll 24 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 50 years, who will receive two intramuscular injections of the FluMos-v2 vaccine candidate. These injections will be given 16 weeks apart.

For 40 weeks after their first vaccination, participants will receive regular follow-up phone calls and examinations to track their responses to the experimental vaccine.

Most seasonal flu vaccines are designed to train the immune system to defend against three or four different common strains of flu, but a “universal” influenza vaccine might someday provide protection against many more, according to the NIH.