Researchers for a universal flu vaccine based on mRNA technology are beginning to enroll volunteers in an early-stage clinical trial.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center has started to enroll volunteers at the Duke University for its Phase 1 trial of the mRNA-based vaccine, which uses the same technology as the COVID-19 vaccines. The study will have 50 “healthy volunteers” ages 18 to 49 enrolled in the trial who will receive check ups up to one year after their vaccination.
The trial will divide 30 of the participants into three groups of 10 people. Each group will be vaccinated with a different dosage — 10, 25 or 50 micrograms — of the experimental vaccine. After researchers review the data to determine an “optimum dosage,” 10 more participants will receive the vaccine, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The trial will also have a group of participants who receive a seasonal flu vaccine that is already available on the market to compare the two vaccines.
The NIH press release noted that scientific experts predict which strains of the flu will be most prevalent in the country every year to determine which strains of the flu should be included in the vaccine. A universal flu vaccine would cover all the different kinds of strains of the influenza virus, as opposed to the seasonal flu vaccines on the market now.
“A universal influenza vaccine would be a major public health achievement and could eliminate the need for both annual development of seasonal influenza vaccines, as well as the need for patients to get a flu shot each year,” acting National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Hugh Auchincloss said in a statement.
“Moreover, some strains of influenza virus have significant pandemic potential,” he added. “A universal flu vaccine could serve as an important line of defense against the spread of a future flu pandemic.”