Flu breakthrough promises a vaccine to kill all strains ... jab targets ... every type
By Alok Jha
The treatment ... targets a different part of the flu virus to traditional vaccines, meaning it does not need to be expensively reformulated every year to match the most prevalent virus that is circulating the world.
Developed by a team led by Dr Sarah Gilbert at Oxford's Jenner Institute, the vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common across all strains, instead of those that sit on the virus's external coat, which are liable to mutate.
If used widely a universal flu vaccine could prevent pandemics... and end the need for a seasonal flu jab.
The process of developing a seasonal vaccine takes at least four months and if the flu strain is highly pathogenic – as in 1918 when millions of people died – the delay means more people get sick and die before the vaccine is ready.
While traditional vaccines prompt the body to create antibodies, Gilbert's vaccine boosts the number of the body's T-cells, another key part of the immune system. These can identify and destroy body cells that have been infected by a virus.
Though a small study, it was significant in that it was the first vaccine of its type to be tested on people.
It is believed that the vaccine could provide better protection against flu for older people. The Jenner Institute scientists are already testing it on people over 50, a group that does not respond so well to traditional vaccines.