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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2010 Nov;9(11):1325-41. doi: 10.1586/erv.10.123.

Cross-protective immunity to influenza A viruses.

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  • 1Division of Cellular and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD 20852, USA. suzanne.epstein@fda.hhs.gov


Antigenic changes in influenza virus occur gradually, owing to mutations (antigenic drift), and abruptly, owing to reassortment among subtypes (antigenic shift). Availability of strain-matched vaccines often lags behind these changes, resulting in a shortfall in public health. In animal models, cross-protection by vaccines based on conserved antigens does not completely prevent infection, but greatly reduces morbidity, mortality, virus replication and, thus, viral shedding and spread. Such immunity is especially effective and long-lasting with mucosal administration. Cross-protective immunity in humans is controversial, but is suggested by some epidemiological findings. 'Universal' vaccines protective against all influenza A viruses might substantially reduce severity of infection and limit spread of disease during outbreaks. These vaccines could be used 'off the shelf' early in an outbreak or pandemic, before strain-matched vaccines are available.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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