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Single vaccination approach developed to combat respiratory diseases

Scientists have developed a single vaccination approach to simultaneously combat influenza and pneumococcal infections.

The researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Research Centre for Infectious Diseases say a single vaccination – combining vaccines from the new class of vaccines they are developing – will overcome the limitations of current influenza and pneumococcal vaccines used around the world.

The research shows that the new Influenza A virus vaccine under development (based on inactivated whole influenza virus) induces enhanced cross-protective immunity to different influenza strains, when it is co-administrated with the new class of pneumococcal vaccine. It showed the enhancement in immunity is associated with a direct physical interaction between the virus and the bacterium.

“Influenza infection predisposes patients to severe pneumococcal pneumonia, with very high mortality rates,” said Dr Mohammed Alsharifi who led on the research with Professor James Paton. “Despite this well-known synergism, current vaccination strategies target the individual pathogens.

“We’re investigating combining our novel influenza and pneumococcal vaccines into a single vaccination approach and have demonstrated a highly significant enhancement of immune responses against diverse subtypes of influenza.”

Previously published work from the team show a similar boost in efficacy of their pneumococcal vaccine when co-administered with the flu vaccine, so there is bi-directional enhancement of pathogen-specific immunity.

“Influenza virus and pneumococcus worked together to cause up to 100 million deaths during the great ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918-1919,” added Professor Paton. “A century later, we have shown analogous, but this time highly protective, synergy with our novel vaccination strategy that targets both pathogens simultaneously.”

The research was published in Nature Microbiology.

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