University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers reported they have found an engineered flu virus that induced strong immune responses in animals and could pave the way for a new type of "at home" nasal spray vaccine to combat the flu.
In the UCLA study published in the journal Science, researchers used genomics to identify and eliminate the flu virus' defense mechanisms and created an engineered virus that proved to be safe and effective against the flu in animals, a UCLA Health release said. Researchers say this data may help to develop a vaccine in the form of a nasal spray which people could administer to themselves.
“Because the variations of seasonal influenza viruses can be unpredictable, current vaccines may not provide effective protection against them," Ren Sun, professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s senior author, said in the release. “Previous pandemics and recent outbreaks of avian influenza highlight the need to develop vaccines that offer broader, more effective protection.”
UCLA scientists say the new vaccine development needs to be based on interactions between the virus and interferons or proteins critical to immune response in the body.
“Other researchers have knocked out one anti-interferon sequence, but we knocked out eight locations by changing one amino acid at a time,” Yushen Du, first author of the study, said in the release.
UCLA researchers now plan to test the vaccine with two strains of the flu virus before developing clinical trials with humans.