"Amid Grim Flu Season, Scientists Work Hard To Find "Holy Grail" Vaccine" - Tara Narula
Flu activity is widespread in nearly every state, but the FDA is ready to finalize next year's vaccine. That will give manufacturers the six to nine months they need to prepare more than 150 million doses to fight the flu. The flu vaccine is the only routine vaccination people need to take every year, which is why scientists around the world have been searching for decades for a universal flu vaccine - one that targets all the strains of the flu and will last a lifetime. "It's a very difficult goal, it is sort of the holy grail," said Peter Palese, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Palese and his team have been working most exclusively for five years on finding the "holy grail" of flu prevention, and they believe they're close. "The virus is changing constantly, which is why we have to get a new vaccine every year," Dr. Palese said. Florian Krammer, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who is leading the clinical trials in humans said, "This was really from an idea that was developed on the bench, into clinical trials in eight years. This is called the bio-bubble. We can prepare vaccine seeds that then go into manufacturing and then can be used in human clinical trials." They're also using chicken eggs to grow their vaccines. It's a method of vaccine development used for over 70 years. The eggs are injected with strains of the flu virus, incubated for a few days and harvested to prepare the vaccine. Typically, you would get one to three doses per egg.
- Peter Palese, PhD, Professor, Chair, Microbiology, Professor, Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Florian Krammer, PhD, Associate Professor, Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai