New research suggests a possible link between flu vaccines and high risk of brain tumors
The link between a flu vaccine and brain tumors has been long debated.
A team of researchers from Yale University and the University of Texas at Austin recently published a paper in the journal Science, which concluded that a vaccine that contains a flu virus protein called VP8 appears to be a potent trigger for brain tumor growth in mice.
The finding is an important one for scientists trying to develop vaccines for flu.
But it raises questions about how long the vaccine is needed to prevent the development of brain cancers in humans.
“We were not surprised at all that it caused tumors in the mice,” says Michael Muehlbauer, a neuroscientist at Yale University.
“The brain tumors are a common outcome in a lot of diseases.”
The paper was written by scientists from the Yale University School of Medicine and the Center for Infectious Disease and Immunity (CIDI), an independent research arm of the National Institutes of Health.
It looked at the relationship between the vaccines used to produce flu shots in the US and the development and spread of brain tumor cells.
“They were looking at tumors that were growing in the brains of mice,” Muellbauer says.
“So the implication is, if you put a vaccine in the hands of people who have had flu, they will be more likely to develop brain tumors.”
The study looked at 2,500 brains from the brains, tumors, and lungs of mice.
Researchers injected the mice with flu shots containing a virus protein VP8, which is produced by the body’s immune system.
The virus protein is a known trigger for the immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells in the body.
Previous studies have shown that VP8 also triggers a surge in the immune cells in people who develop lung cancer.
Muello says that the findings are important because they could help researchers develop a vaccine for the flu, since they could test whether a vaccine produced with the virus proteins could prevent brain tumors.
But researchers are still trying to understand why the virus protein seems to be so potent in causing brain tumors in mice, and how it triggers brain cells to start producing a virus.
Muesh, who was not involved in the study, says he is not sure what might be behind the link.
“It’s possible that VP1 is a big player,” Mueshlbacher says.
But the link between the virus and the brain tumors is also possible because the viruses that cause the tumors and the vaccines produced with VP8 can cause antibodies that can react with the immune systems cells to attack cancer cells, which could lead to tumors.
The researchers did not find evidence of other viruses or other triggers that would lead to the same results.
“That’s an exciting finding, but it’s not the only finding,” says Elizabeth C. Rochat, a professor of neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and one of the lead authors of the Science paper.
“What’s really exciting is that the immune response is actually very similar in the brain tumor patients to the immune responses that we see in people with asthma or allergies.”
The researchers hope to test the vaccine on mice, who are known to be immune to the virus.
But Muesllbacher and his colleagues caution that it’s a long way from finding a vaccine, because there are still some questions about the immune reactions that occur in the lab.
Mengele vaccine trials have been going on for decades, but no vaccine has been approved.
The new paper focuses on mice.
“I think we need to be careful because we haven’t really done any research with humans,” Muchelbauer adds.
“And we’re really just trying to find out how well the vaccine works and whether we can do it with humans.”