Research: Canadian researchers discover pathway to developing universal flu vaccines
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — University of British Columbia researchers may have found a way to develop universal flu vaccines and eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccinations, university officials announced Tuesday.
Led by John Schrader, Canada Research chair in Immunology and director of UBC’s Biomedical Research Centre, the research team found that the 2009 H1N1 "swine flu" vaccine triggers antibodies that protect against many influenza viruses, including the lethal avian H5N1 "bird flu" strain. "The flu virus has a protein called hemagglutinin, or HA for short. This protein is like a flower with a head and a stem," Schrader noted. "The flu virus binds to human cells via the head of the HA, much like a socket and plug," he added. "Current flu vaccines target the head of the HA to prevent infections, but because the flu virus mutates very quickly, this part of the HA changes rapidly, hence the need for different vaccines every flu season."
Vaccines contain bits of weak or dead germs that prompt the human immune system to produce antibodies that circulate in the blood to kill those specific germs. However, the research team found that the 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine induced broadly protective antibodies capable of fighting different variants of the flu virus.
"This is because, rather than attacking the variable head of the HA, the antibodies attacked the stem of the HA, neutralizing the flu virus," Schrader stated. "The stem plays such an integral role in penetrating the cell that it cannot change between different variants of the flu virus."
The new discovery could pave the way to developing universal flu vaccines, Schrader suggested.
Schrader theorizes that a vaccine based on a mixture of influenza viruses not circulating in humans but in animals should have the same effect and potentially make influenza pandemics and seasonal influenza a thing of the past.
Details have been published May 8 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
Bainbridge & Knight target fitness conscious with new weight management product
NEW YORK — Bainbridge & Knight on Tuesday announced the GNC-exclusive launch of Lichi Elite Series, a weight management brand formulated for use by experienced body builders and competitive athletes.
“Backed by cutting-edge research, this is our most efficacious and advanced weight management product in the market," stated Mark Horowitz, VP sales and marketing at Bainbridge & Knight. "Our diet brand has been very well-received over the past year. With this powerful new formula and our brand equity, we are confident about successfully launching a new line extension of weight management products targeting the fitness enthusiasts."
The primary ingredients are the antioxidant-rich lychee berry, green tea extracts and SuperCitriMax Garcina fruit extract.
The new diet aid is available exclusively at the specialty retailer GNC through Dec. 31 and retails at a suggested price of $39.99.
Study: 2-in-5 Americans will be obese by 2030
WASHINGTON — Researchers from the Duke University Medical Center on Monday released a public health study finding that even maintaining the current prevalence of obesity in the United States would realize savings of almost $550 billion over the next two decades.
However, the forecasting study found that 42% of the U.S. population could be obese by 2030, suggesting the U.S. healthcare system could be burdened with 32 million more obese people within two decades. The study also forecasted an increase in the number of individuals with severe obesity (a body mass index greater than 40), with rates rising to 11% by 2030.
The study, based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and state-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations, was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on May 7.