Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Flu Vaccine May Provide NO PROTECTION AT ALL from H3N2 Virus, the Dominant Strain This Year

Canadian influenza researchers reported Thursday in the online journal Eurosurveillance that the first reckoning of how well the flu vaccine is protecting against H3N2 viruses this year in North America has a dismal answer: not very.

 

Their midseason estimate, based on data from the four provinces where roughly 80 percent of Canadians live, suggested that the H3N2 component of the vaccine is 17 percent effective at preventing infection. Last year it was estimated at 37 percent in Canada and 34 percent in the U.S.

 

In working-age adults, the estimated protection is lower still: 10 percent. That is in line with the protection level Australia saw in its harsh winter 2017 flu season.

 

And in the case of the assessment of the H3N2 component, the confidence intervals cross zero, which means the researchers cannot rule out the possibility there was no benefit from that part of the vaccine.

 

The report does not estimate how well this year’s vaccine protects against H1N1 viruses. Skowronski said there has simply been too little H1N1 disease in Canada so far this winter to make that calculation. 

 

Whatever the reason, the findings confirm the fact that people who’ve been vaccinated are among those contracting flu this season.

“This is low protection. And the overall message is: People who have been vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible against this H3N2 virus that’s circulating,” said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, lead author of the report and an influenza epidemiologist at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control.

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Why Flu Vaccines Are Not as Effective as They Should Be

Why Flu Vaccines Are Not as Effective as They Should Be | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

People grumble a lot about the shortcomings of the flu vaccine, which some years offers less protection than expected. (Warning: This year may be one of them.) What they may not know is that the source of at least some of the problems is a common item found in all grocery stores and many fridges.

 

The egg.

 

The overwhelming majority of flu vaccines are made from viruses grown in eggs. This production process is inexpensive and time-tested; flu vaccines have been made this way as long as flu vaccines have been made.

 

But the process is not ideal — and it leads to issues that can undermine the vaccine’s effectiveness. Increasingly, experts are questioning whether the pros of egg production are worth putting up with the cons.

 

“We need to do a lot to improve existing vaccines. And getting away from eggs would be very valuable,” said Dr. Kanta Subbarao, director of the World Health Organization’s influenza collaborating center in Australia.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Academic Research Goes Where No Pharma was Willing to Go: Develops a Universal Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/5kHIOn
  • “Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think”; http://sco.lt/9CKgl7 
  • “Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests”; http://sco.lt/4pRtTd 
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL 
  • “Pharma Needs to Step Up & Help Develop a Universal Flu Vaccine"; http://bit.ly/PMBalbum012913 
  • “Adults Only Really Catch the Flu About Twice a Decade, Study Suggests: Another Good Reason Not to Get Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/7yRU9J 
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Why Isn’t Pharma Working Harder & Smarter to Develop a Better Flu Vaccine?

Why Isn’t Pharma Working Harder & Smarter to Develop a Better Flu Vaccine? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

This year’s flu vaccine is offering moderate protection against the main family of viruses causing illness, data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show (here: http://bit.ly/2kTmrGx).

 

Overall, getting a flu shot cut one’s risk of contracting flu and needing to see a doctor (my emphasis) by 48 percent this season, when the effectiveness of the various components of the vaccine were assessed together, according to the report published in the CDC’s online journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

 

Far and away the most common cause of influenza so far this year is the influenza A virus family known as H3N2. [The vaccine is only 43% effective against illness caused by influenza A] Seasons in which H3N2 viruses dominate are typically harsh because the virus is especially hard on older adults. Older adults also get less benefit from flu vaccines than healthy younger people.

 

“Forty percent to 50 percent is a lot better than zero, but what it really begs the question is: Why are we not working hard to get new and better flu vaccines?” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy and a long-time advocate for the development of more effective flu vaccines.

 

“Last year we spent over a billion dollars researching new HIV vaccines — an amount that I think is an important investment. But the best estimate we can come up with is we only spend about $35 million globally on … research on new game-changing flu vaccines.’’

 

[Read “NIH Study Leads the Way for #Pharma to Develop a More Effective Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/5fNcXJ and “One Step Closer to Universal Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/7yOawr]

 

Last week Canadian researchers reported they are seeing about 42 percent protection from the H3N2 component of the vaccine north of the border. And European scientists reported vaccine effectiveness of 38 percent for H3N2 on Thursday.

 

Jacqueline Katz, deputy director of the CDC’s influenza division, said a theory behind the poor performance of the H3N2 component of the vaccine relates to the way flu vaccine is produced.

 

Most influenza vaccine is produced in hen’s eggs; the viruses have to adapt to grow in eggs. That’s true of all families of flu but for some reason the H3N2 viruses adapt in ways that introduce important differences. In essence, the viruses produced in the eggs are different from the viruses circulating in people and don’t adequately prime immune systems to recognize and fend off those viruses. In some years those differences are more pronounced than others.

 

Further Reading:

 

  • “Millions of patients given flu drugs with little or no benefit, study finds”; http://sco.lt/93x12P
  • “Adults Only Really Catch the Flu About Twice a Decade, Study Suggests: Another Good Reason Not to Get Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/7yRU9J
  • “Does the Flu Vaccine Work? What 62% ‘Effective’ Really Means”; http://bit.ly/1duC2Cx
Pharma Guy's insight:

The effectiveness of flu vaccines is a disgrace! Use of old technology to develop the vaccine is partly to blame. I've been writing about this for a long time. Read, for example, “Does the Flu Vaccine Work? What 62% ‘Effective’ Really Means”; http://bit.ly/1duC2Cx

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Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think

Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Flu vaccination efforts are in full swing.

 

But you may have been hearing puzzling things about flu shots over the past couple of years.

 

While the flu is a common illness, that hardly means the science around it is static. Some recent studies have suggested that getting a yearly shot may actually diminish the benefit of successive vaccinations. Others have raised the possibility that statins — the commonly used cholesterol-lowering drugs — may actually interfere with your immune system’s response to influenza vaccine.

 

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended against the use of the nasal mist vaccine that many kids prefer over injected vaccine (read “CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!”; http://sco.lt/5E9L2P ).

 

So are the shots worth the bother?

 

P.S. In the not-to-distant past, the CDC and other public health institutes estimated that flu shots cut one’s risk of contracting flu by between 70 percent and 90 percent.

 

But that new way of assessing vaccine effectiveness we talked about earlier has shed more light on that question, and the effectiveness estimate was seen to be too high.

 

The more common claim is that the vaccine lowers one’s risk by an average of about 50 percent to 60 percent — though some years the protection is far less, depending on how well matched the viral targets in the vaccine are to the viruses making people sick.

Pharma Guy's insight:

I see that my supermarket is offering 20% discount off my grocery bill if I get the flu shot at their drug store. Hmmm...

 

Also read:

  • “Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests”; http://sco.lt/4pRtTd
  • "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL
  • “Pharma Needs to Step Up & Help Develop a Universal Flu Vaccine"; http://bit.ly/PMBalbum012913
  • “Adults Only Really Catch the Flu About Twice a Decade, Study Suggests: Another Good Reason Not to Get Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/7yRU9J
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CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!

CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Dealing a blow to AstraZeneca in its largest FluMist Quadrivalent market, a CDC committee has recommended against any use of the nasal vaccine for the upcoming season. It’s a setback that AZ says it’s still working “to better understand” as the pharma navigates a changing flu vaccine landscape.

 The U.S. accounted for more than two-thirds of FluMist Quadrivalent's revenue last year, with $206 million of its $290 million in global sales. 

In issuing its recommendation, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices weighed "data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness" from three previous flu seasons. In late May, the body received data showing that FluMist was just 3% effective in children aged 2 to 17 during the 2015-2016 flu season, compared with an estimated 63% effectiveness for flu shots. ACIP said "no protective benefit could be measured" from the nasal vaccine.

AstraZeneca said some of the CDC data doesn't jibe with its own or with findings from studies by independent health authorities in the U.K. and Finland. The company said its vaccine was 46% to 58% effective overall last season.

What's odd, as Reuters reports, is that the CDC back in 2014 recommended FluMist over injectable competitors due to its superior efficacy at the time. Children are often given the nasal vaccine to avoid injections.

AstraZeneca said it’s communicating with the agency to learn more.

 

[Also read "Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggest"']

Pharma Guy's insight:

Keep in mind that CDC's definition of "effective" - whether for mist or shot - is not very impressive. For more on that, read Does the Flu Vaccine Work? What 62% "Effective" Really Means

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One Step Closer to Universal Flu Vaccine. Yay! I was there!

One Step Closer to Universal Flu Vaccine. Yay! I was there! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Researchers in the US have started testing what they believe could be a universal vaccine against influenza, tackling both seasonal and pandemic strains such as bird flu.


The team - from the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the US and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharma unit - say the vaccine could provide long-acting protection against seasonal flu, potentially doing away with the need to develop new vaccine cocktails every year to address the prevailing strains.


The ultimate aim is to have a vaccine that only has to be given every five to 10 years to protect against flu, and would also provide some protection against emerging pandemic strains.


That would include those that jump the species barrier from animals to humans, such as the swine flu epidemic that killed hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in 2009.


The work is still in animal studies but focuses on using a different part of the flu virus as the basis for the antigen used in the vaccine. 


At the moment, scientists analyse the flu surface protein hemagglutinin (HA) in circulating flu strains to guess which will be causing infections during the flu season and setting in motion a manufacturing scramble to make combination vaccines that can take several months.


If the virus changes in the interim, the vaccine will be less effective. That happened last year, where the engineered vaccines only cut the chance of developing flu by around 23%. To compensate, pharma companies are developing vaccines that increase the number of strains included in the cocktail from three to four.


In a bid to sidestep that arms race, the TSRI and Janssen researchers are working with the stem of the HA protein, rather than the top end which is variable.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Regarding my involvement: I once made a living building molecular models of complex proteins for life science researchers. One such model was of the influenza flu coat protein, which I built for  Dr. Ian Wilson, who is now Chairman of the Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, which is part of the Scripps Research Institute. The model is still on display in the lobby of the Scripps Research Institute! Below is a recent photograph that was sent to me by Mika Elizabeth Ono, Scripps Research Institute Director of Communications.


Back in the 80s, when I built this model, computer graphics were not good enough to help scientists like Wilson visualize the detailed structure of proteins. Here's how Dr. Wilson describes my tiny contribution to his research:


"We decided we would have a go at building a trimer so we co-opted John Mack from New York who was a model builder. He came up to Harvard [I built a model there first] and we constructed a dimer as one unit. This was a three-dimensional plastic model, 1 angstrom per cm. We could actually look at this thing to see what it really looked like and we could obviously trace it out. There were some limited computer-graphics programs that you could use to trace out the molecule, but it was really hard to get a feel for what it was all like without seeing everything at once. So that (three-dimensional) model turned out to be extraordinarily useful for trying to understand the structure. The third monomer was also built and we thought we would be able to assemble and disassemble the trimer, but they were so intertwined that it was impossible" (see "A Discussion with Ian Wilson").


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Millions of patients given flu drugs with little or no benefit, study finds

Millions of patients given flu drugs with little or no benefit, study finds | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Millions of patients may have taken influenza drugs that have little or no benefit to them, according to an Australian-led study.


The study found that researchers paid by pharmaceutical companies were more likely to recommend antiviral drugs for flu and produced different recommendations to independent researchers conducting the reviews.


The study analysed 26 systematic reviews, a type of study considered to be the gold standard of evidence because they assess all existing studies on a topic using stringent guidelines.


Adam Dunn, lead author of the study and a health informatics expert at the University of NSW, said: “Systematic reviews summarise available evidence following strict protocols, so we expect findings from them to be consistent.


“But we found reviewers with ties to pharma introduced bias, as we found a disconnect between what their results showed and what they went on to recommend.”


The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that benefits of the class of drugs, known as neuraminidase inhibitors, may eventually be found to have been inflated, which could prove highly costly to governments.


“Global stockpiling of antivirals was recommended by a panel from the World Health Organisation in 2002 and in 2009, governments around the world spent $6.9bn building stockpiles of oseltamivir [Tamiflu], an investment that remains poorly supported by available clinical evidence,” the study said.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Now we know why Roche took so long to release all of the trial data for Tamiflu to the Cochrane Collaboration.


Back in 2009, when the world was all a-Twitter about the outbreak of Swine Flu, this happened:


  • FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of Influenza Medicines, Diagnostic Test in Response to Swine Flu Outbreak in Humans, and
  • MedImmune Cited for FluMist Reminder Ad


In the first case, FDA allowed vaccines to be used to treat populations (ie, children as young as 1 year) or to be "distributed to large segments of the population without complying with the label requirements otherwise applicable to dispensed drugs" (eg, without a physician's prescription and by volunteers). This applied to Relenza (GSK) and Tamiflu (Roche).


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In 2007, the Tamiflu DTC advertising campaign was among the finalists for the P.O.E. award (see here). Coincidence?

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Google Venture Arm Backs Universal Flu Vaccine

Google Venture Arm Backs Universal Flu Vaccine | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A private British company developing a vaccine that would be the first in the world to fight all types of flu has raised 20 million pounds ($27 million) from investors including GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc.

 

Vaccitech, a spin-out founded by scientists at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, said on Monday the cash would help fund its vaccine through a two-year clinical trial involving more than 2,000 patients and expand other projects.

 

A so-called universal flu vaccine that elicits immunity against parts of the virus that do not change from year to year is a holy grail of medicine - but so far it has proved elusive.

 

Current flu vaccines have to be changed each year to match strains of virus circulating at the time. The hope is the new one-size-fits-all vaccine will provide better and longer-lasting protection.

 

Vaccitech’s new vaccine works by using proteins found in the core of the virus rather than those on its surface. Surface proteins stick out like pins from the virus and change all the time, while those in the core are stable.

 

If all goes well, Vaccitech’s shot could potentially be ready for launch in 2023, although 2024 or 2025 might be more realistic.

 

Further Reading:

  • “Why Flu Vaccines Are Not as Effective as They Should Be”; http://sco.lt/94oV4T
  • “Academic Research Goes Where No Pharma was Willing to Go: Develops a Universal Flu Vaccine”; http://sco.lt/5kHIOn
  • “Your Next Flu Vaccination May Not Be as Effective as You Think”; http://sco.lt/9CKgl7
  • “Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests”; http://sco.lt/4pRtTd
  • “Pharma Needs to Step Up & Help Develop a Universal Flu Vaccine"; http://bit.ly/PMBalbum012913

 

Pharma Guy's insight:

It takes a technology company to provide money for a universal flu vaccine while Big Pharma still uses egg "technology" to develop INEFFECTIVE vaccines!

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Academic Research Goes Where No Pharma was Willing to Go: Develops a Universal Flu Vaccine

Academic Research Goes Where No Pharma was Willing to Go: Develops a Universal Flu Vaccine | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

A UK company has started trialling a new universal influenza vaccine that would avoid the annual scramble to guess the most likely strains to be circulating in the following flu season.

 

The vaccine - developed by University of Oxford spin-out Vaccitech - will be tested in around 500 National Health Service (NHS) patients in a study supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It is thought to be the first trial of such a vaccine and will extend over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 flu seasons.

 

The need for a more effective flu vaccine was starkly revealed last winter. The recommended vaccine was around 40% effective overall, but hardly provided protection at all to the over-65s who are most at risk of severe complications and death from the infection, despite being a good match for circulating strains of the virus.

 

The NIHR notes that flu affects about a billion people worldwide a year with 250,000 to 500,000 annual deaths, mainly in the over-65 age group. About 10,000 over 65s registered at six GP practices will be asked to take part in the trial in Berkshire and Oxfordshire this winter.

 

The new vaccine is designed to offer greater protection against flu because it targets the core proteins of the virus, which stay constant, while current vaccines target surface proteins (haemagglutinin and neuraminidase) that are constantly changing.

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

I was involved tangentially in research to develop a universal flu vaccine way back in the early 80s (see further reading). The image shown here is of a molecular model I built of the core protein of the flu virus.

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Flu Vaccination Rates Among Many Helthcare Workers are as Low as 45%

Flu Vaccination Rates Among Many Helthcare Workers are as Low as 45% | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual influenza vaccination for all health care personnel to reduce influenza-related morbidity and mortality among both health care personnel and their patients (1–4). To estimate influenza vaccination coverage among U.S. health care personnel for the 2015–16 influenza season, CDC conducted an opt-in Internet panel survey of 2,258 health care personnel during March 28–April 14, 2016.

 

Overall, 79.0% of survey participants reported receiving an influenza vaccination during the 2015–16 season, similar to the 77.3% coverage reported for the 2014–15 season (5).

 

Coverage in long-term care settings increased by 5.3 percentage points compared with the previous season.

 

Vaccination coverage continued to be higher among health care personnel working in hospitals (91.2%) and lower among health care personnel working in ambulatory (79.8%) and long-term care settings (69.2%).

 

Coverage continued to be highest among physicians (95.6%) and lowest among assistants and aides (64.1%), and highest overall among health care personnel who were required by their employer to be vaccinated (96.5%). Among health care personnel working in settings where vaccination was neither required, promoted, nor offered onsite, vaccination coverage continued to be low (44.9%).

 

An increased percentage of health care personnel reporting a vaccination requirement or onsite vaccination availability compared with earlier influenza seasons might have contributed to the overall increase in vaccination coverage during the past 6 influenza seasons.

Pharma Guy's insight:

“GSK's Whooping Cough Vaccination Campaign Needlessly Demonizes Wolves & Grannies! “; http://sco.lt/52JoCf The REAL “villains” may be healthcare workers!

 

Related stories:

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rosywills's comment, September 30, 2016 8:19 AM
Opportunity Analysis- H1N1 (Swine Flu) Vaccination Market Future Opportunities
Download Free PDF Brochure @ http://bit.ly/1tI5CiY
Curative drugs such as Tamiflu were introduced in the initial phase of the H1N1 pandemic. The latter phase would require drugs facilitating prevention rather than the cure. This market research report forecasts the H1N1 vaccine market for disease prevention in the unaffected population. The initial lot of vaccines will be egg-based and cell-based and first administered to priority groups such as pregnant women, chronic disease patients, and children above 6 months of age.
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Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests

Flu Shot Doesn't Work as Well as #pharma Clinical Data Suggests | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

It's the time of year when experts crunch the numbers to see how well the flu shot worked. The result? Better than last year, but still not good enough.

 

"Overall, just shy of 45 to 50 per cent," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski of the BC Centre for Disease Control, who presented the data to the Global Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness meeting at the World Health Organization last week.

 

"That's lower than we would like to see, but it's an improvement over the previous year, because it couldn't be worse, frankly"

 

Experts used to believe the annual flu shot protection was much higher, around 70 to 90 per cent. But not anymore. Those early estimates were based on industry-funded clinical trials that were extrapolated to apply across all ages and flu seasons.

 

"It was a blanket assumption that is simply not true," Skowronski said.

 

That assumption changed dramatically, after Skowronski and colleagues developed a protocol that revealed the true picture of vaccine efficacy. It's called the test negative design (TND) first piloted in Canada in 2004.

 

"The test negative design has opened our eyes to all kinds of variables that we were blind to for years. We were flying blind," said Skowronski.

 

The good news is the data is more reliable. But the bad news is that experts now realize the flu vaccine protects only about half of the time.

 

"Our public health goal is to minimize the serious health problems association with the flu," said Skowronski. "There's no use promoting a vaccine that isn't working well. The only way you can do better is to recognize the problem in the first place."

 

This year's data also shows that only about a third of Canadians got the flu shot, about five per cent less than last year.

 

"That's not a surprise coming out of a year where effectiveness was so low. That had to have an impact," said Skowronski.

Pharma Guy's insight:

The drug industry over promises the effectiveness of vaccines based on small clinical trials, but in the real world effectiveness, as in this case, is much lower than pharma marketers want us to believe. You can't fault the "anti-vaxxers" when the data suggests that marketers share some of the blame why the public may be skeptical. For more on that, read "Everything You Wanted to Know About Vaccine Marketing, PR, Earned Media, Lobbying, and 'Anti-Vaxxers'"; http://bit.ly/29H0UOL Also read “CDC Says AZ's FluMist is Ineffective Compared to Flu Shots; i.e., 3% v. 63%!”; http://sco.lt/5E9L2P

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NIH Study Leads the Way for #Pharma to Develop a More Effective Flu Vaccine

NIH Study Leads the Way for #Pharma to Develop a More Effective Flu Vaccine | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited, new research suggests. Currently, seasonal flu vaccines are designed to induce high levels of protective antibodies against hemagglutinin (HA), a protein found on the surface of the influenza virus that enables the virus to enter a human cell and initiate infection. New research conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that higher levels of antibody against a different flu surface protein — neuraminidase (NA) — were the better predictor of protection against flu infection and its unpleasant side effects. Neuraminidase, which is not currently the main target antigen in traditional flu vaccines, enables newly formed flu viruses to exit the host cell and cause further viral replication in the body.

 

As expected, the researchers found that the group of participants who had high levels of anti-HA antibodies when enrolled in the trial experienced a significantly lower incidence of mild-to-moderate influenza disease and some reduction in its duration compared with participants with low HA antibody levels. However, the NIAID researchers also found that these participants were just as likely to experience some flu symptoms as those with low levels of HA antibodies. If these results are consistent with naturally occurring flu infection, it suggests that while high HA antibody levels may limit viral shedding, and thus the spread of virus from person to person, these levels may not prevent the development of flu symptoms. This would help to explain why some people who receive the seasonal flu vaccine might still report flu symptoms.

 

Surprisingly, the researchers found that participants with high levels of NA antibodies experienced a more robust protective effect from the vaccine than did those in the high HA group. Specifically, the NIAID team found that the individuals with high NA antibody levels experienced less severe disease, a shorter duration of viral shedding and symptoms, and fewer and less severe symptoms compared with those with high HA levels when challenged with the 2009 H1N1 virus. HA and NA antibody levels considered together may be a better predictor of whether someone develops mild-to-moderate influenza disease — and the severity of their symptoms — than either factor alone, but this study suggests that NA antibodies are the stronger factor for determining disease severity, the authors conclude.

 

Based on these findings, the authors suggest that the role of NA immunity should be considered when studying influenza susceptibility and that NA antigens should be considered in the design of future flu vaccine platforms.

Pharma Guy's insight:

Why didn't the pharma industry do this research? for more on that read this article: "Pharma Needs to Step Up & Help Develop a Universal Flu Vaccine"; http://bit.ly/PMBalbum012913 

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Adults Only Really Catch the Flu About Twice a Decade, Study Suggests: Another Good Reason Not to Get Flu Vaccine

Adults over the age of 30 only catch flu about twice a decade, a new study publishing March 3 in PLOS Biology suggests. Flu-like illness can be caused by many pathogens, making it difficult to assess how often people are infected by influenza.


Researchers analyzed blood samples from volunteers in Southern China, looking at antibody levels against nine different influenza strains that circulated from 1968 to 2009.


They found that while children get flu on average every other year, flu infections become less frequent as people progress through childhood and early adulthood. From the age of 30 onwards, flu infections tend to occur at a steady rate of about two per decade.


Dr. Adam Kucharski, who worked on the study at Imperial College London before moving to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, says, "There's a lot of debate in the field as to how often people get flu, as opposed to flu-like illness caused by something else. These symptoms could sometimes be caused by common cold viruses, such as rhinovirus or coronavirus. Also, some people might not realise they had flu, but the infection will show up when a blood sample is subsequently tested. This is the first time anyone has reconstructed a group's history of infection from modern-day blood samples."


Dr. Steven Riley, senior author of the study, from the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial, notes, "For adults, we found that influenza infection is actually much less common than some people think. In childhood and adolescence, it's much more common, possibly because we mix more with other people. The exact frequency of infection will vary depending on background levels of flu and vaccination."

Pharma Guy's insight:


The other reason is the flu vaccine is not very effective this year AND the definition of "effective" is not very impressive. For more on that, read Does the Flu Vaccine Work? What 62% "Effective" Really Means

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