Thursday, September 11, 2008

Universal flu vaccine and human Guinea Pigs!

Human trials of universal flu vaccine begin from

Clinical trials of a new vaccine that could protect against multiple types of flu are beginning at Oxford University. If successful, the ‘universal’ flu injection would transform the way we vaccinate against influenza and could offer immunity to a bird flu pandemic.


The problem with the Influenza Virus (the Flu virus) is that it changes over time. Small changes lead to drift and normally cause epidemics while more substantial changes, also know as gene shift, may cause dreaded pandemics. The problem with the flu vaccine is that it targets special protein found at the surface of the virus and that shift and drift creates "new viruses" no longer recognized by our immune system. So need a shot every year...AND YOU SHOULD GET IT!

The problem with yearly shots is that new vaccine production is mainly based on statistics and the probability to find such and such strain in any given year. This is normally based on the study of previous years. In a way, it can sometimes be a long shot. Having said that, even with the uncertainty these shots can prove to be useful.

Many people do not want to be inoculated with vaccines for various reasons including the fact that some vaccines contain Thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, even if Thimerosal has been proven to be eliminated very quickly by the organism even in infants.

The bird flu that, so far, has killed close to 200 people worldwide reminds us that a pandemic is more a question of "when" than of "if" and the scientific community is trying its best to come up with a solution. The main problem in the production of a new vaccine against a probable bird flu pandemic is that we need the virus before we can produce a other words, we need the pandemic to start before we can inoculate people. The other problem is that vaccine production takes a lot of effort and the industrial capacity worldwide is limited. We would NOT have enough vaccines for everyone on the planet!

A new vaccine seems promising and would likely address many problems related to yearly vaccine production. A universal vaccine targeting ALL strains of influenza. WOW! That is a real need! On September 8th, human clinical trials started with a limited cohort of brave human Guinea pigs. This study, done at the Oxford university, could lead the way to a new and much needed vaccine. Read more HERE

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