Last updated May 23, 2019 at 11:40 am
New Australian research suggests that a single vaccination could overcome limitations of global influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.
Scientists from the University of Adelaide’s Research Centre for Infectious Diseases, say combining the new class of vaccines they are developing will overcome the limitations of current influenza and pneumococcal vaccines used around the world.
New vaccine induces cross-protective immunity.
The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, shows that the new Influenza A virus vaccine under development (based on inactivated whole influenza virus) induces enhanced cross-protective immunity to different influenza strains, when it is co-administrated with the new class of pneumococcal vaccine.
The enhancements in immunity is associated with a direct physical interaction between the virus and bacterium.
The latest study, led by Mohammed Alsharifi and James Paton, builds on previous research on the development of a new class of inactivated vaccines that target components of both the virus and the bacterium that do not vary from strain to strain.
Current influenza vaccines target surface molecules that are affected by mutations and so an annual update is required to match newly emerging viruses.
Existing pneumococcal vaccines provide longer lasting protection, but cover only a minority of disease-causing strains.
The researchers say there is a clear need for better vaccines capable of providing universal protection.
“Influenza infection predisposes patients to severe pneumococcal pneumonia, with very high mortality rates,” says Alsharifi.
“Despite this well-known synergism, current vaccination strategies target the individual pathogens.
“We’re investigating combining our novel influenza and pneumococcal vaccines into a single vaccination approach and have demonstrated a highly significant enhancement of immune responses against diverse subtypes of influenza.”
Challenging the stigma around mixing viral and bacterial vaccines
Previous work from the team show a similar boost in efficacy of their pneumococcal vaccine when co-administered with the flu vaccine, so there is bi-directional enhancement of pathogen-specific immunity.
“Our findings challenge an age-old immunological dogma about mixing viral and bacterial vaccines in a single injection”, says Alsharifi.
“Influenza virus and pneumococcus worked together to cause up to 100 million deaths during the great ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918-1919,” says Paton.
“A century later, we have shown analogous, but this time highly protective, synergy with our novel vaccination strategy that targets both pathogens simultaneously.”