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Researchers seek 500 NHS patients to test new universal flu jab

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Researchers seek 500 NHS patients to test new universal flu jab

Researchers seek 500 NHS patients to test new universal flu jab
October 05
16:52 2017

The BBC has reported that researchers from the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute are seeking 500 NHS patients to test a new ‘universal’ vaccine for seasonal influenza, which may give better protection against the virus.

This experimental vaccine differs from the one that is currently available as it is targeted to a part of the flu virus that does not change each year. The flu jab that is used at the moment is reformulated each year and work by inducing antibodies to the variable surface proteins of the virus. However, information on the viruses to be used for the vaccine is only available at short notice before the vaccine is required, which gives manufacturers a limited production timeframe.

As this new vaccine is targeted at part of the virus that is constant each year, the team that devised it explained to the BBC that it should therefore work against human, bird and swine flu. Additionally, it will not need to be reformulated each year.

Speaking with the BBC the lead researcher, Professor Sarah Gilbert, co-founder of Vaccitech, a spin-out company from University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute that is part-funding the work, explained that using this new vaccine in combination with the currently available one could help improve efficacy and give people better protection. “We expect that the protection from the new vaccine will last longer than a year, but we will need to test that with more clinical trials in the future,” she said. “It is possible that, in future, vaccinations against flu might be given at longer intervals — maybe every five years instead of every year. But first we have to test protection in the first flu season following vaccination.”

Those invited to take part in this clinical trial are patients in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, who are aged 65 years and older. They will be randomized to either receive the current vaccine with a placebo jab or the current vaccine and the new, experimental one. Gilbert noted that the trial should take two years to complete.


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