URMC researchers aiming for universal flu vaccine

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. – Researchers at URMC are trying to find a better way to protect against the flu – and they need the community’s help.

They’re looking for healthy people between the ages of 18 and 49 to participate in an isolated clinical trial. The goal is to gather enough information to help create a universal vaccine.

The flu naturally mutates each year during the production period of a vaccine. This year’s strain of the virus was too much, making the vaccine a poor match.

The universal vaccine would theoretically protect against the flu for up to five years.

“This knowledge that we gain will inform us on the optimal design for a universal vaccine; how often do we give it? What are the doses? Are they safe, before we see it out on the street?” said David Topham, Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Rochester.

The universal vaccine method would focus on the parts of the virus that doesn’t change as much, creating a vaccine for that region of the virus.

“So this would broaden the immunity response,” said Topham, “so it cross-reacts with so many other influenza viruses. We think that will be more protective, and the virus will have a harder time changing.”

The broad-based vaccine may not happen for another five years. Those interested in participating in the clinical trial would receive two nasal spray vaccines and one shot, and they would have to be isolated at St. Mary’s Hospital for nearly two weeks. Participants would be given a $3,900 stipend to help out.

For more information on the study, click here.

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