Universal flu vaccine in the works

Two teams of scientists have discovered a breakthrough that will introduce a universal flu shot to the world.

Two studies, appearing in the journals Science and Nature Medicine, were conducted by researchers from Janssen Pharmaceuticals and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California.

The research has figured out a way to make antibodies react to different strains of flu virus. According to the researchers, their techniques were effective in trials conducted on animal models.

More importantly, their method was able to produce antibodies that fight the H5N1 bird flu and H1N1 swine flu.

Currently, vaccines have to be developed every year to become suitable against the newest and most dominant strains of flu virus.

With this new breakthrough, experts do not have to guess which particular strain will be the strongest during the flu season.

The new vaccine would copy the part of the virus that does not change from one season to another. According to The Verge, this approach has been known to the researchers for quite some time now, but they recently found a way to formulate the vaccine that triggers the correct immune response.

For the study that appeared in Nature Medicine, the vaccine was given to ferrets and mice. The animals then received the H5N1 virus, which can kill 50 percent of infected humans. The study found that all mice and most ferrets were immune to the virus.

The study published in Science showed that the vaccine was effective in mice. More importantly, immune response was seen to be stronger when it was given to H1N1-infected monkeys.

According to Ian Wilson of TSRI, the team is on track when it comes to the development of a universal flu shot.

Wilson also said in a news release that the next step is to find out if the same method can be effective in humans. Studies using animal models do not always mean they can also work in humans.