'Universal' Flu Vaccine Being Developed

BETHESDA, Md., July 16 (UPI) — A “universal” flu vaccine effective against many different strains of flu virus could be a reality within a few years, U.S. researchers say.

Early animal trials of such a vaccine using a “two-step” method of immunization have begun and could be tested on human patients by 2013, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

In tests on mice, ferrets and monkeys, U.S. researchers “primed” the immune system with influenza DNA then added a “booster” of seasonal flu vaccine to increase immunity, the newspaper reported.

“We are excited by these results,” Dr. Gary Nabel of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

“The prime-boost approach opens a new door to vaccinations for influenza that would be similar to vaccination against such diseases as hepatitis, where we vaccinate early in life and then boost immunity through occasional, additional inoculations in adulthood,” he said.

Flu viruses are notorious for their ability to mutate and become resistant to vaccines, but the new vaccine generates “universal” antibodies, The Daily Telegraph said.

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