Breakthrough in Flu Prevention? Scientists Discover Surprising Power of Century-Old Vaccine

Vaccine Vial Needle Close Up

Researchers at the McGill University Health Centre have found that the old tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, also protects against influenza A, indicating potential for broader virus defense, including COVID-19. This breakthrough could significantly influence future vaccine development.

As Canada’s flu season collides with record strep A cases and ongoing COVID-19 concerns, a new study is shedding light on our understanding of respiratory immune responses. Scholars from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) have discovered a surprising facet about a century-old vaccine for tuberculosis, Bacillus Calmette Guérin (BCG).

The study, published in the journal Nature Immunology, uncovered a previously unknown mechanism that extends the vaccine’s shield to combat influenza A virus—the most prevalent flu strain.

Implications for Vaccine Development

“The immune interactions involved here can ‘train’ the lungs, which are frequently exposed to infectious agents in the environment. If we can map out the protective immune pathways involved in the lungs, this will revolutionize our conceptual and clinical approaches in developing vaccines against infections, including emergent respiratory viruses,” explains lead author Maziar Divangahi, a pulmonary immunologist, a senior scientist at the RI-MUHC, and a Professor of Medicine at McGill University.

The discovery paves the way for future studies to assess whether BCG could be used to prevent other emergent viruses. Notably, research on the vaccine’s protection against COVID-19 has had promising results.

Reference: “BCG immunization induces CX3CR1hi effector memory T cells to provide cross-protection via IFN-γ-mediated trained immunity” by Kim A. Tran, Erwan Pernet, Mina Sadeghi, Jeffrey Downey, Julia Chronopoulos, Elizabeth Lapshina, Oscar Tsai, Eva Kaufmann, Jun Ding and Maziar Divangahi, 15 January 2024, Nature Immunology.
DOI: 10.1038/s41590-023-01739-z

1 Comment on "Breakthrough in Flu Prevention? Scientists Discover Surprising Power of Century-Old Vaccine"

  1. JackH. Comanche TX | March 7, 2024 at 1:45 am | Reply

    Very interesting, science project’s. Explained to general public needs to know what is going on with the COV,
    Flu shot and uses of Rx for other things, than originally planned!

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