London, England, United Kingdom (AHN) - A universal flu vaccine has been tested by scientists at Oxford University.
The immunization could provide protection against all known strains of the flu, which will protect billions more against the flu virus.
The vaccine hits a different part of the flu virus and does away with costly yearly reformulations to match vaccines to the prevalent virus during the time of epidemic. It takes approximately four months to develop a seasonal flu vaccine.
The new vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus common to all strains, instead of those on the virus's external coating.
A team led by Dr. Sarah Gilbert of Oxford's Jenner Institute developed the universal flu vaccine, which would spare governments millions of dollars in preparing for flu outbreaks during winter.
Gilbert's team injected 11 healthy people with the universal flu vaccine and later infected them with the Wisconsin strain of H3N2 influenza A virus. The same strain was given to 11 other volunteers who were not immunized. The 22 volunteers' symptoms such as runny noses, coughs and sore throats were tracked two times a day, including the volume of mucus produced.
The results showed that fewer volunteers who got the vaccine acquired the flu.
The Institute is now testing the vaccine on volunteers over 50 years old on the theory that it would give better protection to older people. The traditional flu vaccine is 70 to 80 percent effective for young people, but only 30 to 40 percent effective on older people.
Gilbert has been involved over the years with the development of vaccines that work by inducing strong and protective T cell responses. She is also delving into the development and clinical trial of new vaccines against tubercolosis.