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University Hospitals participates in groundbreaking influenza study using COVID technology

Study will test mRNA technology used in COVID vaccines
Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 2:43 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The COVID vaccines used mRNA technology which allowed them to get to the public so quickly. Now, Pfizer will look at using it for flu vaccines.

“It’s really exciting to see this technology being used for other things,” said Dr. Robert Salata, Chair of the Department of Medicine at University Hospitals.

Growing vaccines in a culture can take up to six months while “messenger” RNA only takes week, giving researchers more time before flu season to make a more exact and effective vaccine.

“We can turn this technology around pretty quickly to cover the most prevailing types of influenza strains that are being seen,” said Dr. Salata, “as opposed to being caught off guard if a new one emerged and that can take as little as weeks as opposed to months and months.”

That means researchers can make changes to the vaccines almost right up to flu season. Dr. Salata also expects a three-in-one vaccine to be available soon that can protect against multiple respiratory viruses.

“We’d be targeting the fall time as we do for Influenza vaccination annually to give such a vaccine that would protect against multiple respiratory viruses, including COVID, Influenza, and RSV,” said Salata.

The flu study will look for about 100 participants at the Cleveland site. Dr. Salata says results can be available by late summer, meaning, if the results are positive, an mRNA flu vaccine can potentially hit the market this fall.

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