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Universal flu vaccine promise

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A flu vaccine has been successfully tested on humans that could work against all strains of the illness, the guardian has reported.

A research team led by Dr Sarah Gilbert of Oxford’s Jenner Institute has developed a vaccine that targets proteins inside the flu virus which are common across all strains, instead of those that sit on the virus’s external coat, and are liable to mutate.

Dr Gilbert vaccinated 11 healthy volunteers and then infected them, along with 11 non-vaccinated volunteers.

She monitored the volunteers’ symptoms including runny noses, coughs and sore throats twice a day and also weighed tissues to calculate how much mucus they produced.

The vaccine boosts the number of the body’s T-cells, which are important to the body’s immune response, identifying and destroying cells infected by a virus.

The results, though only from a very small sample, revealed the vaccine worked as planned with the vaccinated volunteers less likely to get flu and showing a boost in T-cells.

Jenner Institute director Adrian Hill the told the Guardian: “If we were using the same vaccine year in, year out, it would be more like vaccinating against other diseases like tetanus. It would become a routine vaccination that would be manufactured and used all the time at a steady level. We wouldn’t have these sudden demands or shortages - all that would stop.”

Although they have not yet been published, the results have been sent to a scientific journal, and a field trial to compare several thousand people is expected to be devised before too long.

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