avian virus

Breakthrough Opens Door to Lifelong, Universal Flu Vaccine

A universal vaccine is on the horizon that could stem influenza’s deadly human toll regardless of what strain of the virus happens to be circulating each year. The breakthrough is being reported today in two influential science journals by a pair of international research teams in the U.S., Japan and Europe.

“The ultimate goal of influenza vaccinology is the development of a universal vaccine that protects against a wide range of strains and subtypes, thereby eliminating the need for seasonal reformulation of vaccines and providing an effective defense against viruses with pandemic potential,” write the authors of one of the studies that appears today in the journal Science

To produce proof-of-concept immunizations, the researchers focused on hemagglutinin (HA), one of the proteins that stud the surface of influenza particles. This protein acts like a grasper that allows influenza to latch onto a host’s cells, like the red blood cells moving through the upper respiratory tract of vertebrates. One part of this protein is the same throughout a range of influenza types, which makes it a promising target for a universal vaccine. 

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