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Universal flu vaccine passes phase I trial

A clinical trial testing out a potential universal influenza vaccine has passed through phase one with promising results. The clinical trial, spearheaded by Florian Krammer at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai in New York, aims to help protect against seasonal flu, as well as any future flu pandemics.

The flu is a significant health concern each year, and epidemiologists face a constant concern of a more dangerous strain emerging and developing into a pandemic -- a more pressing worry now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic than in recent years.

Complications from flu cases cause between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths globally each year, according to the World Health Organization. With such a high annual toll, a vaccine that could protect vulnerable populations against most strains of the virus has been long sought after by medical researchers.

Flu vaccines are around 40-60% effective, and they work by targeting the proteins on the head of the influenza virus (called the hemagglutinin protein.) However, the head of this protein varies across strains, and mutates frequently through a process known as antigenic drift. Most current flu vaccines are therefore strain-specific, which is why you’re offered a flu shot annually. Krammer and his team are working on a vaccine which targets the stalk end of the protein instead, which is nearly identical across virus strains.

The clinical protocol involved 65 participants, followed over a period of 18 months. A report published by Nature Medicine described promising results in this stage of the clinical research, with patients experiencing a strong immune response and no more side-effects than the existing annual flu vaccines.

Unfortunately, Krammer reports that it could take several more years before the vaccine can move through the phase two and three trials which are required for FDA approval, due largely to a lack of funding. Should Krammer and his team eventually succeed, the vaccine will be credited with being the first universal flu vaccine.

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Since 2015, our team has been hard at work raising awareness of clinical trials across the globe. A Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ company and a graduate of the renowned Techstar program in New York, Citruslabs is at the forefront of patient recruitment and retention technologies. With over 3 million patients now recorded on our databases, our patient recruitment dashboard is fast becoming the most efficient method of trial recruitment.

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With more than 200 research sites now using the Citrus platform to screen thousands of patients every month, researchers are now well on their way to finding new treatments for hundreds of different health conditions - something that just would not be possible without a technological solution. Make sure that your clinical trial is in the lucky 12% and turn that luck into guaranteed results with Citrus.

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