Influenza virus surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA) is an excellent and chief target that elicits neutralizing antibodies during vaccination or natural infection. Its HA2 subunit (stem domain) is most conserved as compared to HA1 subunit (globular head domain). Current influenza vaccine relies on globular head domain that provides protection only against the homologous vaccine strains, rarely provides cross-protection against divergent strains, and needs to be updated annually. There is an urge for a truly universal vaccine that provides broad cross-protection against different subtype influenza A viruses along with influenza B viruses and need not be updated annually. Antibodies against the stem domain of hemagglutinin (HA) are able to neutralize a wide spectrum of influenza virus strains and subtypes. These stem-specific antibodies have great potential for the development of universal vaccine against influenza viruses. In this review, we have discussed the stem-specific cross-reactive antibodies and heterosubtypic protection provided by them. We have also discussed their epitope-based DNA vaccine and their future prospects in this scenario.
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