New influenza vaccine fights the virus by not targeting it

Vasculotide helps prevent against influenza by targeting fluid leakage in lungs instead of attacking the sometimes deadly virus directly.

The toll taken by the flu — the 200,000 people hospitalized with seasonal influenza each year and the nearly 3,700 deaths caused by it in 2013 in the United States — has propelled multiple attempts to develop a new influenza vaccine.

From a vaccination you only need once, to bacteria-based vaccines, another type of influenza vaccination is coming into the picture, except this one wards off the flu by avoiding it.

A new treatment called Vasculotide stops fluid from leaking into lungs instead of targeting the influenza virus directly. This approach gives a body’s immune system time to outlast the virus and recover.

Research for Vasculotide was conducted of a team mostly made up of scientists from the University of Toronto, led by respirology researcher and clinician Warren Lee.

According to Motherboard,

“Vasculotide is a ‘Tie2-agonist tetrameric peptide.’ Its efficacy doesn’t have to do with the production of additional healthy lung cells but rather the inhibition of the programmed cell death…this cell death has to do in large part with the removal of Tie2, a protein that Vasculotide acts as an ‘agonist’ for…and with Tie2 back on the scene, lung cells stop self-destructing and fluids stop leaking in.”

The team of researchers tested this new vaccination on mice with three different flu strains and lethal doses. Before the mice received the vaccine, they had regular signs of progressive illness. Researchers rescued a significant subset of the infected animals.

Vasculotide sets itself apart from other vaccines by not being an immune system booster. It prevents negative effects of the flu and the body’s natural responses. This doesn’t protect the immune system, but instead buys the immune system time to fight the virus before everything goes downhill.

Photo: Warren Lee Lab