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New mRNA influenza vaccine may be more effective in mass treatment

Category: Infectious Diseases

New Scientist magazine reported that a new kind of influenza vaccine derived from mRNA was recently discovered that may provide quicker and more effective inoculations.

Current flu vaccines work by allowing the body to adapt to the HA and NA proteins that are present on the surface of the flu virus, but because the virus is constantly changing, a new vaccine needs to be created every year. Producing a vaccine can take months, and many times. the formula is derived from scientists' predictions of how the flu will evolve, which can yield ineffective results.

According to New Scientist, the recently developed mRNA vaccine can be produced in a matter of weeks, and it works by allowing the immune cells to recognize the proteins of the flu virus and create an effective defense. The vaccine also uses cell-mediated immunity to ward off the flu by utilizing blood cells that will effectively eliminate the pathogens of the virus.

The new vaccine would also be easier to distribute because unlike previous treatments, which had to be refrigerated, the mRNA drug is freeze-dried and does not have to stay cold.

There has also been progress in developing a universal treatment that would protect people from all strands of the influenza virus, and people would only need to be inoculated once during childhood. According to New Scientist, Lothar Stitz of the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Riems Island, Germany, produced a vaccine that effectively defended test animals from the normal flu strain as well as the H5N1 bird flu.

Influenza facts and symptoms
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza is a virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs, which leads to a respiratory ailment known as the flu. Some flu symptoms include fever and chills, chronic coughing, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea.

The illness can also lead to bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and even congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.

Catching the flu
The flu is spread from one person to another through body fluids via talking, coughing or sneezing. The virus can also be contracted if someone's hands come into contact with a surface that has the virus on it and the individual then touches his or her eyes, mouth or nose.

The CDC notes that someone is usually contagious with the disease one day before he or she starts to display symptoms until 5 to 7 days later.

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