ROCHESTER — With the intensity of this year’s flu season, the search is on for a better vaccine, and it could come from Rochester.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are testing a new vaccine that could be universal.
“You could give it one to perhaps every five years to protect 75 percent of the population against all strains of influenza,” explained David Topham, Ph.D, the director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence at URMC.
His team is analyzing data collected during a preliminary study, but they’re ready for the next step.
It will include patient volunteers to participate in an isolation study, requiring the patient to stay in the hospital for up to 14 days during monitoring.
The process will involve two nasal spray vaccines and one shot, and will pay up to $3,900.
Researchers will begin screening healthy patients in March. If you’d like to participate, you can call URMC at 585-273-3990.
Meanwhile, the research team also has an acute flu study going on. They are looking for volunteers who believe they have the flu to contact them at the same number. They will give you a flu test, and if it's positive they will take some blood samples. This study pays up to $250 and does not include any shots.
The universal vaccine would be based on targeting parts of the virus that do not change. The biggest challenge with creating the current vaccine, Topham pointed out, is that it is designed to target a specific strain. This year’s strain can easily adapt, making it harder for the vaccine to target it and protect you.
However, pediatricians still encourage you and your child to get the vaccine because they say it not only decreases your chances of getting it, but it also decreases the time it takes you to feel better.
“The children who had the vaccine and went on to get the flu are much less sick. They seem to have fevers for less time, their symptoms are not as severe,” explained Dr. Megan Lasaponara with English Road Pediatrics in Greece.
She added, “A 30 percent improvement could be enough to keep you out of the hospital.”
Here is the breakdown of the two different studies, and what they both involve:
How much will people be paid for participating in the trials?
• Individuals who participate in the acute flu study will be paid up to $250.
• Individuals who participate in the isolation study of the H7N9 virus will be paid up to $3,900.
When will the studies start?
• The acute flu study is happening right now. If you think you have the flu, please call 585-273-3990.
• Screening for the isolation study of the H7N9 virus will start in March, but if you are interested in participating, call now at 585-273-3990. (Isolation will occur in May.)
If I participate in the trials will I have to get a shot?
• The acute flu study does not involve any shots, but blood samples will be taken.
• Participants in the isolation study of the H7N9 virus will receive two nasal spray vaccines and one shot.