NIH-Funded Scientists Find 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Influenza Vaccine
Mice injected with a 2009 H1N1 pandemic influenza vaccine and then exposed to high levels of the virus responsible for the 1918 influenza pandemic do not get sick or die, report scientists funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Balintfy: A new vaccine tested in mice works against the 1918 influenza pandemic virus and the 2009 strains of H1N1 influenza. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says this is because both viruses share some similar features.
Fauci: If you have some similarities between viruses, even though they were separated by decades and decades and decades, that the response against one could be partially protective against the other.
Balintfy: Dr. Fauci explains that even thought both the 1918 and 2009 pandemics were H1N1 viruses, that alone would not necessarily predict cross-protection.
Fauci: But it was clear that in this case, there were certain elements of the 1918 H1N1 that were similar enough to the 2009 H1N1 that when the animals studies that have now been recently reported indicated that if you had vaccinated or exposed to or antibodies to one, you would be protected against the other, which actually fits right into place with what we actually observed in real time during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, where we found that individuals who either had been vaccinated in 1976 against the H1N1 or who had prior exposure, elderly individuals, people 60, 65, 70 who may have had exposure to other H1N1s, had a degree of cross-reactivity such that they were relatively protected against the 2009 H1N1.
Balintfy: To learn more, similar challenge studies need to be conducted in other animals, but the investigators say their results suggest people who are vaccinated against 2009 H1N1 influenza or were exposed to the virus could be similarly protected against the 1918 strain of H1N1. Dr. Fauci adds that this research tells us something that scientists have suspected all along:
Fauci: Even though differences in viruses occur, that even when you have some similarities that that triggers and immune response that could potentially cross-protect, so that if we get another H1N1 that’s different years from now, being exposed to this one might in fact have generated enough background immunity to protect you either completely or partially against the next wave.
Balintfy: He adds that every time we learn something more about influenza and the immune response to influenza, it gets researchers closer to what the ingredients might be for a universal vaccine, which is a vaccine that would work against all or at least many viruses. Dr. Fauci also points out another implication of this recent research.
Fauci: There has always been that concern that the 1918 H1N1 has been recreated, as it were, molecularly, and there was a theoretical concern if that "escaped" you know, from the confinement that that could cause a similar 1918-type pandemic. Well, we know right now that people who were vaccinated or exposed to or had background immunity against the H1N1 of 2009 likely would be quite protected against the 1918 virus.
Balintfy: For more about influenza research and H1N1 pandemic viruses, visit www.niaid.nih.gov. This is Joe Balintfy, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Anthony Fauci
Topic: 1918 pandemic, H1N1 virus, influenza, flu