Promising Vaccine Could Protect People Against All Flu Strains

Posted on January 8, 2007

The Daily Mail has an article about a promising new flu vaccine. The vaccine which has been dubbed as the "holy grail of flu vaccines" would work on all types of flu. You wouldn't have to get your flu shot every year either because the new vaccine would also work for many years longer than today's flu shots. The vaccine is being developed by the Cambridge biotech firm Acambis. This new vaccine could work because it focuses on a more stable influenza protein called M2 that other flu vaccines do not target. M2 can be found in all strains of Influenza A which allows the vaccine to protect people from all strains of flu.
Current flu vaccines focus on two proteins on the surface of the virus. However, these constantly mutate in a bid to fool the immune system, making it impossible for vaccine manufacturers to keep up with the creation of each new strain.

The universal vaccines focus on a different protein called M2, which has barely changed during the last 100 years.

The protein is found in all types of Influenza A, including the current bird flu and the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic which killed up to 50 million across the globe.

Normally, such vaccines would have to go through at least five years of human tests before going on the market. However, if a bird flu pandemic occurs before that, they could be made more quickly available.

Zurich-based Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking and obesity vaccines, has showed that its version of the jab stops mice dying from a dose of flu strong enough to kill them four-times over.
The article says that a similar vaccines being developed by Swiss vaccine firm Cytos Biotechnology could be ready to test on humans for the first time this year. So far the vaccine has only kept animals from getting sick.