In the study that was published in Nature and Science, scientists described it as the “holy grail” of immunology. Indeed, a universal flu vaccine would be a game changer in medicine, as it would liberate the people at risk from the need of taking hypodermic injections each and every year. The goal of the scientists is to create antibodies that would protect the organism against any known invading viruses.
In tests on mice, monkey and ferrets one composition of the new vaccine that’s copying the base structure of the influenza hemagglutinin stem offered complete protection against swine flu (H1N1) and avian flu (H5N1) strains. More research has to be conducted in order for the vaccine’s effectiveness to be proven on humans, but as for the time being, the current findings bring hope for the near future.
So far the vaccine proved efficient against many types of flu during its clinical trials on animals, but they are not even close to being universal vaccines in the true sense of the word because H3 viruses are entirely different than other types of flu. But is an exciting development nonetheless. The vaccines have yet to undergo many tests before they can be applied to humans.
The creation of a vaccine for flu is especially hard since the virus mutates into more strains year after year. Scientists have to estimate seasonally which strain of the flu will be affecting the population in order to formulate an effective vaccine.
The research team aims to find a universal shot for all existing strains. In order to create it, the scientists used the base structure of the virus that does not suffer from mutations. The approach is very promising, and hopefully it will become applicable some time soon on further examination.
Vaccines offer protection against various illnesses by tricking the carrier body into developing immune system cells (antibodies) that quickly act if foreign bodies enter the human organism. Getting vaccines is synonym with giving your body small dosages of the virus in order to train your immune system.
Over a period of four decades, between 1975 and 2012, it has been estimated that the number of flu associated deaths in the US is somewhere between 21,000 and 67,000 people.
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