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Flu News Friday 3/19/21

Read the latest on influenza vaccines in this week’s roundup.

Image Credit: Figure 4 of Bullard et al. Vaccine strategies to induce stalk-directed immunity, such as hyperglycosylation of the HA, development of a headless HA, expression of the LAH fragment alone, and chimeric and mosaic HA proteins

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Dr. Carlson explores the power of machine learning and zoonotic risk technology to understand ecological surprise, where “human expectations or predictions of natural system behavior deviate from observed ecosystem behavior,” in H5N8 influenza. The goal of zoonotic risk technology is to equip global surveillance and monitoring teams and other computational researchers to help prevent the next pandemic.

The substantial diversity of influenza viruses due to antigenic shift and drift pose challenges in the development of universal influenza vaccines. This article examines UIV strategies to target and improve cross-reactive immunity against hemagglutinin (HA), the most abundant protein on the virus’s surface. Authors review stalk-directed, consensus-based and computational algorithm-based strategies, all of which utilize a variety of vaccine platforms, including viral vectors and virus-like particles (VLPs).

A World Health Organization (WHO) advisory committee on flu vaccine strain selection recommends two more candidate vaccine viruses for pandemic preparedness, one targeting H5N8 and the other variant H1 (H1v).

There are growing concerns regarding the potential impacts of the upcoming flu season on the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings from this study suggest that Influenza A virus pre-infection significantly enhances SARS-CoV-2 infectivity by increasing viral entry into cells and raising the viral load.

This study examines the impact of demographic mobility and climate change on influenza virus dynamics and potential evolution. More persistent outbreaks of influenza are predicted to be one of the effects. In a broader sense, these findings underscore the significant implications of climate change on global public health.

Zost et al identify commonly shared genetic and structural features for recognition of influenza A’s hemagglutinin (HA) head domain trimer interface (TI) from a class of human antibodies easily elicited in diverse individuals. The study suggests this region is an attractive potential target for the development of epitope-based universal influenza A vaccines inducing broadly protective antibodies.