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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jan 11;108(2):757-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012199108. Epub 2010 Dec 27.

Vaccination inducing broad and improved cross protection against multiple subtypes of influenza A virus.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Development of an influenza vaccine that provides broadly cross-protective immunity has been a scientific challenge for more than half a century. This study presents an approach to overcome strain-specific protection by supplementing conventional vaccines with virus-like particles (VLPs) containing the conserved M2 protein (M2 VLPs) in the absence of adjuvants. We demonstrate that an inactivated influenza vaccine supplemented with M2 VLPs prevents disease symptoms without showing weight loss and confers complete cross protection against lethal challenge with heterologous influenza A viruses including the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus as well as heterosubtypic H3N2 and H5N1 influenza viruses. Cross-protective immunity was long-lived, for more than 7 mo. Immune sera from mice immunized with M2 VLP supplemented vaccine transferred cross protection to naive mice. Dendritic and macrophage cells were found to be important for this cross protection mediated by immune sera. The results provide evidence that supplementation of seasonal influenza vaccines with M2 VLPs is a promising approach for overcoming the limitation of strain-specific protection by current vaccines and developing a universal influenza A vaccine.

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