Synthetic vaccine affords full protection to mice against lethal challenge of influenza B virus of both genetic lineages

A quarter of all seasonal influenza cases are caused by type B influenza virus (IBV) that also dominates periodically. Here, we investigated a recombinant adenovirus vaccine carrying a synthetic HA2 representing the consensus sequence of all IBV hemagglutinins. The vaccine fully protected mice from lethal challenges by IBV of both genetic lineages, demonstrating its breadth of protection. The protection was not mediated by neutralizing antibodies but robust antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and cell-mediated immune responses. Complete protection of the animals required the entire codon-optimized HA2 sequence that elicited a balanced immune response, whereas truncated vaccines without either the fusion peptide or the transmembrane domain reduced the efficacy of protection. Finally, the vaccines did not demonstrate any sign of disease exacerbation following lung pathology and morbidity monitoring. Collectively, these data suggest that it could be worth further exploring this prototype universal vaccine because of its considerable efficacy, safety, and breadth of protection.