'Holy Grail' of Flu Vaccines by Next Year
By Jason Koebler
Universal Vaccine Could Be Available by 2013
That's earlier than the
That differs from the current '60s-era technology, according to
"It's like putting up a tent over your immune system that protects against rapidly mutating viruses," Kim says. At least two other companies are working on a similar vaccine. In late 2010, Inovio earned a
"It's a completely different paradigm than how [the vaccines] are made seasonably every year," Kim says.
Kim says early research has been promising. Flu strains fall into different "buckets," he says. All H1N1 strains share similar characteristics, as do all H5N1 strains, including the the Asian bird flu strain that has killed more than 60 percent of the 500 or so people it has infected over the past decade.
Kim says Inovio has already made and completed successful human tests for vaccines that protect against all H1N1 and H5N1 flu strains.
In late 2011, two research groups created a strain of H5N1 bird flu that could be passed from human to human, leading the
"I am very certain our vaccine can already neutralize that newly made virus," he says. "We're trying to get our hands on it."
Inovio is working on vaccines that'll protect against other strains, such as H3N2, which is seen in a newly-emerged swine flu virus. Those vaccines will be combined with the already-developed H1N1 and H5N1 vaccines to be delivered in one shot by the 2013 flu season. Researchers are taking a similar approach to HIV vaccine development, but working on the flu might be easier.
"Unlike other diseases, we have 50 plus years of diagnostics on the flu," Kim says. "There are lots of toolkits that let us know if our approach will work or not. ... Our goal is to have a vaccine strategy that can protect us from all mutations."
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