"100 Year Shadow"
Influenza viruses cause epidemics in the United States every year, year after year. To overcome the problem of mismatched vaccines, some researchers are looked at the “conserved” parts of the flu virus – the ones that don’t generally change. One possible solution is to redirect the immune system’s attention to the head of the stalk, which doesn’t undergo mutations, said Peter Palese, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Palese and his colleagues created a structure called a chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA), which tricked the immune system into making protective antibodies against the stalk as well as the conserved neuraminidase. In animal studies, repeated inoculations with a cHA-based vaccine persuaded the immune system to ignore the strange head and instead direct antibodies against the stalk and the neuraminidase, said Florian Krammer, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Palese’s colleague at Mount Sinai and a frequent co-investigator. In theory, this kind of universal vaccine would train the immune system to recognize a portion of the virus that remains unchanged in all forms of influenza—both seasonal flu and any new, particularly virulent strains.
- 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