New flu vaccine could be nasal spray

AMES - Researchers at ISU are developing a new flu vaccine that would be better and more effective than ever.

"We have created a new family of vaccines which are based on nanotechnology and medicine," said Balaji Narasimhan, with the ISU Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. 

Nanotechnology means using materials that are 1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair. Researchers at ISU have made a flu vaccine unlike anything else.

"And what these nanovaccines do is provide information to the immune system about the pathogen that we're trying to neutralize," said Narasimhan. "For example, if we're looking at a flu nanovaccine the proteins that are embedded inside are related to flu so they are influenza vaccines."

You hear about flu vaccines being 20 percent effective, and that researchers are often times just guessing. This one is opposite.

"Our nanovaccine has the ability to incorporate proteins from multiple different strains of influenza so you don't have to guess at this point with respect to what season because some of the proteins we incorporate into our nanovaccine are preserved across all strains of flu," said Narasimhan.

Another upside? No side effects.

"It's very safe," said Narasimhan. "So our vaccine is inhaled, so there's no shot but it is actually very safe it doesn't induce any type of inflammatory response."

It'll be a while until you see this in clinics. The vaccine still has to be tested on more animals.

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