Only One Shot

In this 2006 image, a qualified healthcare practitioner was in the process of administering an intramuscular immunization to a woman, using the woman’s right shoulder muscle as the injection site.

Say it together: “One shot to rule them all!”

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

I got my flu shot LAST year — why do I need another one??

Because the flu virus resembles a spiky seed pod! Your immune system recognizes those spikes to fight the virus off. BUT they’re constantly changing. That’s why we need a new flu shot every year. But what if one shot provided LIFETIME protection?

Seyhan Boyoglu-Barnum, Daniel Ellis of the Vaccine Research Center of the NIH, and their team are on it!

Previously, the researchers created tiny protein blocks — like Legos — for building vaccines. Now they’ve attached spikes from four different flu strains. These Legos with spikes SNAP together to make a mega-vaccine! The team gave mice this vaccine, followed by a DEADLY flu dose of a flu strain NOT used in the vaccine. 

And? EVERY infected mouse lived! Whereas, of those given the traditional vaccine, only seventy percent survived. More research is needed before there’s only ONE vaccine to protect against the seasonal flu. 

But these scientists are giving it their best shot!

Reference: Boyoglu-Barnum, S., Ellis, D., Gillespie, R. A., Hutchinson, G. B., Park, Y.-J., Moin, S. M., Acton, O. J., Ravichandran, R., Murphy, M., Pettie, D., Matheson, N., Carter, L., Creanga, A., Watson, M. J., Kephart, S., Ataca, S., Vaile, J. R., Ueda, G., Crank, M. C., & Stewart, L. (2021). Quadrivalent influenza nanoparticle vaccines induce broad protection. Nature, 592(7855), 623–628.