A part of the flu virus which remains unchanged throughout mutations in the organism could hold the key to a vaccine for the bug, scientists have claimed.
Writing the journal mBio, a team of researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York said they had found a way around the virus’s natural defences which had allowed them to harvest a hitherto inaccessible part of its structure.
The scientists cut out the vulnerable neck of the hemagglutinin, later using it to develop a vaccine that protected laboratory mice from otherwise fatal strains of the virus.
“We now report progress toward the goal of an influenza virus vaccine that would protect against multiple strains,” Dr. Peter Palese, Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre and colleagues said.
Flu viruses mutate constantly each year, with scientists fighting a running battle to tweak vaccines before the latest strain emerges.