Hospital Trust recruiting for trials of new flu vaccine

Male blowing nose

Southampton’s university hospitals are to take part in clinical trials of a vaccine that could protect against numerous types of flu – including pandemics such as bird and swine flu.

Existing vaccines target only the outside of the flu virus, which frequently changes and varies in different strains of the virus, meaning new vaccines are needed each year.

Novel new T-cell vaccines target the internal core of the flu viruses, which do not change very much over time or between strains.

The study is being conducted by research staff and clinicians based at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility (WTCRF) at Southampton General Hospital and the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.

“The current approach to tackling flu via the coat of the virus is not adequate because strains are constantly changing, new formulas have to be developed at short notice and then people are only protected for that particular strain,” said Dr Saul Faust, director of the WTCRF in Southampton.

“If successful, this new type of vaccine that targets the inside of the virus, as opposed to the shell, could potentially offer protection against many different strains of influenza A, including those that cause pandemics.”

Dr Faust, a specialist in infectious diseases, added: “Such an advanced vaccine would be suitable for all ages at any time of year and, as the substance of the vaccination would not change from year to year, there would be no need for annual injections.”

Three hundred healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 45 are required to take part. Initially, volunteers will have a blood test to see if they are immune to a particular strain of flu and 26 people who do not have this immunity will then go ahead to trial the new vaccine in the second part of the study.

If you are interested in taking part in the trial, contact recruitment coordinator Gemma Neal on 023 8120 6322 or email gemma.neal@suht.swest.nhs.uk.

Posted on Friday 3 July 2009