A Universal Shot
Development of a universal flu vaccine is not impossible for the industry – we just need bioinformatics to show us the way forward.
Derek Gatherer |
I’ve recently been involved in a project to design a potential universal flu vaccine using bioinformatics (1). There will be a lot of people who after reading our paper will say (and indeed have said): been there, done that, didn’t work – give up! But we can’t really afford that attitude when it comes to influenza. Currently, our situation regarding the flu is like living in a region prone to storms; we have a fairly reliable drill for dealing with storms, but very occasionally there will be a hurricane – and the standard storm drill will be fairly useless when that happens. Standard vaccination regimes are unlikely to cut it during a pandemic. We can simply wait for the big one, shrug our shoulders and see what fate brings, thinking about ways to deal with it in the meantime – or we could try to prevent it. In other words, we shouldn’t give up on the development of a universal flu vaccine just because it’s a tough challenge to solve.
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