Assoc Prof Sylvie Alonso (L) and Assoc Prof Mireille Lahoud (R)
Influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu”, is a major global public health problem and a huge economic burden on societies. Seasonal influenza epidemics affect between 13 and 100 million people each year, including three to five million cases of severe illness and 300,000 to 600,000 deaths worldwide. This represents a major global public health concern and an extraordinary economic burden for all societies. Pandemics are less common, but they are generally more severe and pose a greater threat. Over the past century, there have been at least four devastating pandemics caused by the influenza A virus that have claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Although vaccination is arguably the most effective way to prevent influenza, current vaccination strategies suffer from certain limitations, the main one requiring that current influenza vaccines be updated annually to match circulating strains. This results in low vaccination coverage rates and low coverage due to inaccurate prediction of circulating strains. Widely protective and “universal” influenza vaccines that do not need to be updated annually have therefore been sought.
The highly conserved M2e peptide is one of the leading universal candidates for influenza; this peptide shares a sequence conserved with nearly all known human strains of influenza A. However, its limited ability to elicit a strong and durable immune response has been a major obstacle to its clinical development.
Researchers from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore and Monash University in Melbourne published an article in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America where they successfully leveraged a novel vaccine platform to deliver M2e to immune cells. This allowed them to prove that a single immunization containing M2e was able to trigger long-lasting immune responses that could effectively protect against multiple strains of influenza.
The team was also able to demonstrate that this vaccination approach significantly enhanced protective immune responses in the context of pre-existing influenza immunity. This scenario is particularly relevant in adult and elderly populations, where individuals have been repeatedly exposed to influenza viruses in the past and have low levels of M2e-specific antibodies in their bloodstream.
This vaccine approach has the potential to minimize the amount of M2e vaccine antigen (substance that triggers the body’s immune response against itself) and the number of injections needed for effective and long-lasting protection. It also removes the need for strong adjuvants (a substance that enhances the body’s immune response to an antigen), thereby reducing potential side effects, especially in more vulnerable populations.
Beyond influenza, this vaccine platform could be used to fight a multitude of diseases, including infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of developing versatile and powerful platforms for the rapid deployment of vaccines against all highly virulent diseases. This new discovery could lend itself to the further development of vaccines against this new disease or any other future disease. The team is currently working on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate using the same strategy.
“This trip has been very exciting. All of this work is the result of a strong, long-standing partnership with Assistant Professor Mireille Lahoud of Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and support from both institutions,” said Associate Professor Sylvie Alonso of NUS. Medical. Assoc Prof Alonso is the co-director of the Infectious Diseases Translational Research Program (ID TRP) at the school and has a keen interest in vaccines and therapeutics.
“We are delighted to continue our strong collaboration with Interim Professor Sylvie Alonso at NUS. In the world we live in, this vaccine platform offers a key opportunity to develop vaccines and immunotherapies to address future global health threats,” said Associate Professor Mireille Lahoud, who leads the Immunoreceptor Laboratory. dendritic cells with Monash BDI.
Current flu vaccines have shortcomings (Image credit: NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine)
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About National University of Singapore (NUS)
About NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine)
NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine is Singapore’s first and largest medical school. Our enduring mission is centered on developing highly competent, values-driven, and inspired healthcare professionals to transform the practice of medicine and improve health worldwide.
Through a dynamic and forward-looking five-year program that is interdisciplinary and interprofessional in nature, our students have a holistic learning experience that exposes them to multiple facets of healthcare and prepares them to become visionary leaders and compassionate doctors and nurses. of tomorrow. Since the founding of the School in 1905, more than 12,000 graduates have passed through our doors.
In our pursuit of health for all, our strategic research programs focus on innovative, cutting-edge biomedical research with collaborators around the world to deliver high-impact solutions to benefit human lives.
The school is the oldest tertiary institution of the National University of Singapore and a founding institutional member of the National University Health System. It is one of the leading medical schools in Asia and ranks among the best in the world (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 by subject and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by subject 2021).
For more information on NUS medicine, please visit http://nusmedicine.nus.edu.sg
About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University
Committed to making the discoveries that will alleviate the future burden of disease, Monash University’s Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute brings together more than 120 world-class research teams. Spanning seven discovery programs in the fields of cancer, cardiovascular disease, development and stem cells, infections, immunity, metabolism, diabetes and obesity, and neuroscience, Monash BDI is one of Australia’s largest biomedical research institutes. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers around the world to improve lives through discovery.