[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 25-May-2010
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Contact: Mount Sinai Press Office
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The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Mount Sinai researchers move closer to a universal influenza vaccine

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have developed a new influenza vaccine that brings science one step closer to a universal influenza vaccine that would eliminate the need for seasonal flu shots. The new findings can be found in the inaugural issue of mBio, the first online, open-access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology.

"Current influenza vaccines are effective against only a narrow range of influenza virus strains," said Peter Palese, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "This new vaccine brings us closer to our ultimate goal of a vaccine that protects against multiple strains."

The current seasonal influenza vaccine is strain-specific, targeting the globular head of the hemaglutinin (HA) molecule on the surface of the influenza virus. This globular head is highly variable and constantly changing from strain to strain. Each flu season presents a different strain, making it necessary to adjust the vaccine each year.

In the new study, Dr. Palese and his colleagues developed a vaccine using HA without its globular head. Mice were injected with the vaccine and then following challenge were monitored for morbidity and mortality daily for 10 days. All of the mice vaccinated with the headless HA vaccine survived, while all unvaccinated mice died. Mount Sinai School of Medicine has submitted a patent application for this vaccine approach.

"Our results suggest that the response induced by this vaccine is potent enough to warrant further development toward a universal influenza virus vaccine," said Dr. Palese. "With further development and testing, we predict that a single immunization will in the future offer a sufficient defense against several influenza epidemics."

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About The Mount Sinai Medical Center

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of few medical schools embedded in a hospital in the United States. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 15 institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institute of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The school received the 2009 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation's oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital among the nation's top 20 hospitals based on reputation, patient safety, and other patient-care factors. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 530,000 outpatient visits took place.

For more information, visit www.mountsinai.org.



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