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Universal Flu Vaccine in the Works?

Can you imagine getting a flu vaccine that lasts for decades—and protects against all strains of flu?

A universal flu vaccine may become a reality, thanks to research led by scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

In experiments with mice, ferrets and monkeys, the investigators used a two-step immunization approach to elicit infection-fighting antibodies that attacked a diverse array of influenza virus strains. Current flu vaccines do not generate such broadly neutralizing antibodies, so they must be re-formulated annually to match the predominant virus strains circulating each year.

The research, led by NIAID scientist Gary J. Nabel, appears online ahead of print July 15 in Science Express.

This research is ground-breaking—and could save thousands of lives every year. Influenza kills 250,000 to 500,000 people a year worldwide, including 36,000 in the United States.

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