Key To A Flu Vaccine Which Could Protect us All

Thanks to British Research a universal flu vaccine to help protect us against new strains of bird and swine flu is one step closer. Research to try to find the key to create such a vaccine has taken scientists decades.

Vaccines available at present target only the most common strains by making our immune system produce anti-bodies to prevent infection, but remain one step behind this ever evolving virus.

Thanks to a study carried out in 2009 during the swine flu outbreak, the annual flu season could be reduced and pandemics in the future prevented.

At Imperial College , London scientists used this outbreak as a 'unique' natural experiment to find out why some people got sick whilst others did not. Staff and students donated blood samples when the pandemic took off and they were monitored over the next two flu seasons. The study showed that those who were not taken ill had more virus-killing immune cells (CD8 T cells) in their blood at the start of the pandemic.

A new vaccine would work by promoting the body to produce these cells to help fend off the virus. "The study has provided the 'blue print' for a vaccine" Said Dr Ajit Lalvani from the National Heart and Lung Institute