Universal Flu Vaccine Coming Soon

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A universal flu vaccine may end the your best excuse for not showing up on Mondays.

One of the greatest challenges in developing an effective flu vaccine every year is the fact that the pesky virus mutates at the drop of a hat. However, researchers in England believe they have found the key to what could be a universal flu vaccine: The blood of people who didn’t get sick during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

“New strains of the flu are continuously emerging, some of which are deadly, and so the Holy Grail is to create a universal vaccine that would be effective against all strains of flu,” observes Professor Ajit Lalvani, chair of infectious diseases at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.

Lalvani and colleagues collected blood samples from more than 340 volunteers during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which killed more than 18,500 people worldwide, and found that those with a virus-killing immune cell called CD8 T cells were more likely to avoid serious illness than those who lacked the special cells.

According to Lalvani, a vaccine that boosts CD8 T cell levels would likely be more effective at keeping influenza in check than more traditional approaches. If studies prove the new vaccine effective, it could be available in as little as five years.

Better get those three-day weekend in while you can.

You can get more information about this universal flu vaccine experiment over at EurekAlert.

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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