Researchers Move Closer to Universal Flu Vaccine

August 25, 2015.

Two groups of researchers have independently created vaccines that could develop into a universal protection against every type of flu.

Both teams focused on a protein, hemagglutinin, found on the surface of the flu virus H1N1. The protein has two major components, the head, which mutates and changes from strain to strain, and the stem, which is similar across most flu strains. The teams tried to remove the head region and keep the stem but noticed that once beheaded, the stem falls apart, and antibodies can no longer to bind to it. When the teams vaccinated mice, both groups saw full protection against lethal influenza strain H5N1.

The two sets of research results are published today in Nature Medicine and Sciencerespectively.