NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Scientists who developed the COVID-19 vaccine used a new technology called mRNA, or messenger RNA. Now, researchers at Yale University are building on that discovery by using mRNA technology to improve the flu vaccine.
The COVID pandemic required a rapid response from scientists, bringing vaccine technology that had been studied for years front and center.
Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, Onyema Ogbuagu, MD says “I think that when the world had an urgent need for vaccines, when Sars-CoV-2 virus hit, that causes COVID, then it became an opportunity to test this new approach to vaccine development.”
Traditional vaccines put a weakened germ into our bodies, but mRNA shots, like the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines teach cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response if someone gets infected.
Researchers take that mRNA template and can encode it for the flu, or other infectious diseases. It would also make it easier to tweak during flu season, if there’s a different dominant strain circulating.
Dr. Ogbuagu mentions, “It’s a technology that can be deployed pretty rapidly.”
Dr. Ogbuagu says the mRNA flu vaccine would not necessarily be better than the traditional shot, but it does mean more people could be protected.
“Remember that some individuals do not tolerate the already approved influenza vaccines, so, this gives them another option,” he adds.
Another option to stop or slow the spread of a serious, potentially deadly infectious disease.
The mRNA vaccine is currently being studied in a clinical trial. Dr. Ogbuagu says he expects some preliminary results by March 2023, the mRNA technology is also being studied for protection against rabies, Lyme disease, Zika, and HIV.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.