On the Horizon

Development of a Universal Influenza Vaccine

The development of a universal influenza vaccine that “induces broad spectrum and longer-term immunity” has become “an important potentially achievable target in influenza vaccine research and development.”5 At present, vaccinations target hemagglutinin (HA), one of the two major influenza virus antigens. However, neuraminidase (NA) is more genetically stable. For this reason NA-based vaccines have the potential to be effective for longer time periods. Research is being conducted to produce “large quantities of highly pure and stable NA” that “could be beneficial for the development of new antivirals, subunit-based vaccines, and novel diagnostic tools.”5 Other vaccines strategies under investigation include subunit vaccine, viral vector-based vaccine, chimeric epitope vaccine strains and HA stalk-based vaccines.6

Vaccine-Free Influenza Prevention

Interferon (IFN)-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) is “a protein that restricts cellular infection by influenza virus and is active against all strains of influenza virus, regardless of serotype or species of origin.” Recent research is investigating inhibition of NEDD4, an enzyme that degrades IFITM3, as a “novel strategy for preventing infection by influenza virus and other IFITM3-sensitive viruses through the increased accumulation of the antiviral restriction factor IFITM3.”7