Preferential induction of cross-group influenza A hemagglutinin stem–specific memory B cells after H7N9 immunization in humans

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Science Immunology  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 13, eaan2676
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aan2676

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Stemming the tide of influenza

A universal flu vaccine would prevent the need for yearly flu shots, but successful development has been hampered by the diversity and adaptability of the influenza virus. Andrews et al. compared B cell responses to the relatively conserved stem region of the influenza cell surface molecule hemagglutinin (HA) in humans vaccinated with either group 2 H7N9 or group 1 H5N1. They found that the stem-targeted memory B cells after H7N9 vaccination recognized both group 1 and group 2 influenza subtypes, whereas H5N1 vaccination induced responses primarily to group 1 subtypes. These data suggest that a group 2 stem immunogen, administered in the proper conditions, would have a higher likelihood of eliciting cross-group protection.