Scientists have developed a long-lasting form of universal flu protection from llamas that were immunized with flu vaccinations. The protection may last for an entire flu season, helping manage flu seasons and combat potential epidemics. The solution involves a new anti-flu antibody that protects against both influenza A and B viruses.
Existing flu vaccines help protect against the seasonal flu, but may be less effective in some seasons than others. A newly developed anti-flu antibody, though, may provide universal protection from multiple flu viruses, including avian strains like the H1N1 virus. The protection is derived from llamas.
The work comes from Nick Laursen and colleagues, according to EurekAlert, which reports that the protection is based on single-domain antibodies called sdAbs. These were isolated from llamas treated with flu vaccines, the result being antibodies that, when delivered to mice intranasally, provided protection against flu A and B viruses.
The protection was found to be “near-universal,” hinting at a promising potential alternative to flu vaccines, which aren’t as effective in the elderly and certain other populations. The ability to protect against multiple flu viruses could improve effectiveness in flu seasons and help address potential pandemics.
Perhaps most importantly, the researchers found that old mice and ones with compromised immune systems were also protect when exposed to lethal doses of H1N1. It’s important to note that these are preclinical findings, however, and future testing on humans will need to take place.