The flu is coming from the northern hemisphere, and with it, the vaccine campaign. Until now, vaccines against this virus have been using well-known technologies but if not 100% effective, the appearance of messenger RNA could be a game changer.
More and more laboratories are using this new technology to develop vaccines against the influenza virus. Sanofi, the world leader in influenza, thus began testing for a monovalent RNA vaccine – targeting a single strain of the virus – that will begin testing on a quadrivalent vaccine next year.
American Pfizer was the first to use the Influenza vaccine messenger RNA in humans in September and has already been used in the vaccine against Covid 19. American biotechnology company Moderna began its own tests in early July.
What is the interest of this technology, which has been proven against Govit-19, but has never been used against other viruses?
Influenza vaccines have been around for a long time. However, their effectiveness is not total: they use inactivated viruses, which must be prepared in advance, varying from 40 to 60% or 70% for one performance. “Six months before the outbreak, we evaluate the most contagious strains. Sometimes we make mistakes, which can lead to significant overdose deaths,” explains Claude-Agnes Reynolds, Insermin’s Immunologist and Research Director.
In addition, he says, “the problem with inactivating a virus to make a vaccine is that it damages some surface proteins,” which stimulates the immune system.
Conversely, messenger RNA does not need to produce antigens (substances that stimulate the body’s immune system) in millions of eggs because it is the human cell that makes it. Even the proteins of the virus.
“If the World Health Organization (which refers to strains to use, the editor’s note) warns that there is a change in current strains, we can switch much faster with RNA than with existing technology,” says researcher Jean-Jacques Le Fur. Brian, Garnier & Co. With key, efficiency can reach 95%. So many researchers are on track.
This technology has drawbacks, including extremely low temperature storage conditions.
“We have to come up with thermostable vaccines that can be stored in syringes at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees in the refrigerator. There are many things that can change messenger RNA into influenza,” explained Thomas Triomp, vice president of the vaccine branch at Sanofi recently.
“Acceptable question: Will people be assured or always reluctant about this technology when it comes to these vaccines?” , Asks Jean-Jack Le Fur. However, it is not enough to stimulate appetite. “Sanofi understands that this technology cannot be ignored. Flu vaccines account for 2.5 2.5 billion in sales each year,” he added.