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A Breakthrough in Vaccinology Against Infectious Diseases » Science News

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A Breakthrough in Vaccinology Against Infectious Diseases » Science News

An innovative RNAi-based platform could revolutionize vaccines, offering broad and long-lasting protection against infectious diseases.

Updating the flu vaccine every season could become a thing of the past with this new approach. (WINDCOLORS/Shutterstock.com)

A breakthrough vaccine platform could revolutionize the way we tackle infectious diseases, eliminating the need for booster shots with a single dose that can protect against all future strains of a virus. Although it has currently only been tested on mice, the scientists involved in the project are confident about its potential.

Rong Hai, a virologist at the University of California, Riverside, said: “This could be the long-awaited universal vaccine.” The vaccine uses an attenuated version of the virus, following a similar approach to that adopted for vaccines such as those against measles and chickenpox. However, unlike the latter, the new technology is based on RNA interference, known as RNAi, rather than the traditional immune response.

The principle behind the vaccine is to activate the body’s defense system through the production of small interfering RNAs in response to the viral infection. These RNAi work by neutralizing the virus, preventing it from replicating effectively. Even in the presence of mutations, the vaccine appears to be able to offer complete protection, as it targets the entire viral genome with thousands of small RNAs.

Shouwei Ding, professor of microbiology and lead author of the study, explained that the virus weakened by the action of RNAi can be used as a vaccine to boost the host’s immune system. This innovative approach could represent a turning point in the fight against viral infections, overcoming the limitations of traditional vaccines.

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One of the main features of the new platform is its ability to be used even in subjects with immune disorders or newborns, who are usually not suitable for live vaccines. Researchers demonstrated the effectiveness of the Nodamura mouse virus vaccine by administering a single dose to mice lacking B and T immune cells, achieving long-lasting protection.

The research team already plans to extend the application of the technology to the influenza virus, with the aim of developing a nasal spray vaccine to ensure greater acceptance and coverage. The ultimate goal is to create a versatile platform capable of adapting to different human pathogens, such as influenza virus, dengue, SARS and COVID.

Although there are still challenges to address, the results obtained so far are promising and could pave the way for a new generation of vaccines capable of offering broad and long-lasting protection against infectious diseases. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, laying the foundation for future developments in the field of vaccinia.

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