Scientists claim they have made a significant breakthrough in the journey towards creating a universal vaccine that would provide immunity against every form of flu.
A universal vaccine would be at least five years away
Seasonal flu vaccines that aim to combat the ever-changing influenza virus are quickly becoming redundant and updates to the vaccine are required every year.
A team of researchers from Imperial College London say they have developed a “blueprint” for a universal influenza vaccine. The report is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The influenza virus is able to modify the proteins that exist on the surface of the virus on regular basis. However the inside of virus remains the same in many strains of flu and it is this information that could help develop a universal vaccine.
The team focused on the T-cells, an integral part of our immune system that is believe to be able to identify the proteins in the flu virus. Researchers analysed the levels of T-cells in 342 people at the university at the beginning of the swine flu pandemic.
They drew the conclusion that the more T-cells a patient had, the less aggressive their symptoms were. The scientists then identified which parts of the T-cell were working well as a defence mechanism on what specific part of the virus.
Seasonal flu kills up to half a million people each year worldwide and can cause pandemics on occasion.
The research was led by Professor Ajit Lalvani who advised caution with the breakthrough warning that much more work was needed to find a universal vaccine.
Prof Lalvani told the BBC: “It's a blueprint for a vaccine. We know the exact subgroup of the immune system and we've identified the key fragments in the internal core of the virus. These should be included in a vaccine.
"In truth, in this case it is about five years away from the vaccine. We have the know-how, we know what needs to be in the vaccine and we can just get on and do it."
Health insurance can offer prompt treatment in a private hospital for you and your family which can reduce the risk of infection and developing conditions commonly caught in NHS wards.
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