Published January 2020 | The Lancet Infectious Diseases

Vaccine experts at Cincinnati Children’s collaborated with a large team of scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and several other institutions to take a significant step forward in the quest for a universal flu vaccine.

The team tested a novel approach employing what they call chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA). The idea is based on deeper study of the hemagglutinin protein, which is found on the outer shell of influenza viruses and helps the virus get inside host cells. While the “head” of this protein varies widely from strain to strain, the “stalk” varies less.

The new cHA-based approach focuses on prompting the body’s immune defenses to focus on that stalk. The team tested several potential cHA-based formulations. They found that an inactivated vaccine combined with an adjuvant induced significant antibody response, but a live attenuated version did not.

The vaccine induced a broad antibody response against several circulating human influenza viruses—and to avian and bat influenza virus subtypes. The co-authors also say the strong response induced by the inactivated formulation with adjuvant suggests that a one-dose vaccine may be enough to respond to future influenza pandemics.

Cincinnati Children’s co-authors on the study included first author David I. Bernstein, MD, Monica McNeal, MS, Michelle Dickey, MSN, Kristen Buschle, MSN.

Chimeric HA Vaccination Regimens & Trial Design