A Universal Vaccine to defend influenza mutations is a must need

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A universal vaccine is the need of the hour that will help tackle the challenge of developing one new vaccine each year to combat Swine Flu

On a visit to India world renowned scientist and immunology expert Dr. Rafi Ahmed said that the world is moving towards developing a universal vaccine influenza vaccine that protects against multiple viral subtypes. This has long been the goal of immunologists working to overcome the requirement for a new vaccine during each flu season and the need for a rapid response to potentially dangerous mutations.

He said the current Vaccine that is available to tackle the swine flu outbreak is effectiveness is gradually reducing to an extent of 30-40% in dealing with the virus as the strains keep changing.  Besides, vaccination we must build widespread awareness about Influenza in this part of the world and ensure that people are aware of the disease burden says Dr. Rafi Ahmed.

The challenge we face today is to develop a new vaccine every year to deal with different types of virus strains. According to him it is possible for humans to make antibodies that would provide protection against many different strains of influenza virus; our goal is to develop a universal vaccine that can provide a good coverage against the multiple viruses so that we do not have to develop a new vaccine every year.


Over the year’s partnerships between Research Universities and the vaccine industry have brought promise and hope to develop newer vaccine to tackle infectious diseases world over. He cited the Emory Vaccine Center initiative to develop the universal influenza vaccine which is bringing promising initial development results. Dr. Ahmed and his team if developed this vaccine will generate long-lived protective immunity by identifying and incorporating epitopes of the hemagglutinin that mediate broad virus neutralization into an influenza vaccine.

There is also a growing Private, Public and Research Institutions partnerships that companies like Bharat Biotech pursues which help develop effective cell-cultured vaccine like H1N1® The vaccine was developedwith strains approved by from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta (USA). Dr. Rafi said.

Addressing the media Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech talked about Bharat Biotech’s HNVAC® the only flu vaccine to be manufactured in cell culture, in the developing world under a highly sterile and controlled manufacturing process, instead of eggs which has remarkable effectiveness to control H1N1.

[wp_ad_camp_3]Dr.Ella also mentioned the company had to destroy its swine flu vaccine stocks because of very poor demand as these vaccines have a short shelf life. The swine flu outbreak this time is worse than what we had five years ago with an estimated 12,000+ cases reported in recent months. The epidemic took more than 800 lives.

It normally takes around three months to manufacture a vaccine and each one of us should be aware of this. To deal with outbreaks and have a swift turnaround time, Bharat Biotech plans to build an inventory of bulk vaccine, so that going forward the response time is reduced to a large extent. We also hope the Government will reach out to companies like ours by procuring vaccines before such seasonal outbreak occurs.

What we are now pursuing at Bharat Biotech is the Vaccine Adjuvant program which will enhance the vaccine immune capability manifold. It is an ambitious program and we hope to unveil details in the course of time.

Understanding the intricacies of long-term immune memory is a key to vaccine development. Rafi Ahmed, Director of the Emory Vaccine Center and the Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar says. Dr. Rafi is an internationally recognized expert on viral persistence and the immune response to viruses. He and his colleagues have made important discoveries about the differences between the two types of immune memory — humoral and cellular.

Born, in Hyderabad, India, Dr. Rafi Ahmed is a world-renowned scientist whose work has been highly influential in shaping current understanding of immunological memory in infections, vaccines, cancer and immunotherapy. His work continues to offer novel avenues for designing improved vaccines and therapeutics for hard to treat human diseases across the world.

Dr. Ahmed contributed to several land-mark findings which shaped the current paradigms of modern immunology, translational medicine, vaccine design and immunotherapy; ranging from defining memory T and B cells and the rules that govern their persistence, design of universal influenza vaccine antigen targets, human immunity to dengue, sophisticated novel methods for high throughput human monoclonals that can have therapeutic potential, and the means for modulation of a most recently discovered immune system on/off molecular switch, called PD-1,  that can be exploited for devising novel immunotherapeutic regimens to treat chronic infections  and cancer. (press release)

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