A Universal Flu Vaccine

Universal flu vaccine breakthrough

A universal flu vaccine that could protect people from all strains of flu has been successfully tested on humans for the first time by Britain scientists.

The breakthrough vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common to all types of flu instead of being tailored to match individual strains, according to researchers at Oxford University.

Dr Sarah Gilbert, who led the study, tested the vaccine on 11 healthy volunteers, all aged over 50, who were infected with H3N2 flu virus and compared them to 11 people who were also infected but did not receive the vaccine. 

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Flu breakthrough promises a vaccine to kill all strains

While traditional vaccines prompt the body to create antibodies, Gilbert's vaccine boosts the number of the body's T-cells, another key part of the immune system. These can identify and destroy body cells that have been infected by a virus.

In her trial, Gilbert vaccinated 11 healthy volunteers and then infected them, along with 11 non-vaccinated volunteers, with the Wisconsin strain of the H3N2 influenza A virus, which was first isolated in 2005. She monitored the volunteers' symptoms twice a day, including runny noses, coughs and sore throats, and she calculated how much mucus everyone produced by weighing tissues they used. Though a small study, it was significant in that it was the first vaccine of its type to be tested on people.

Gilbert said: "This is the first time anyone's tested if you can boost somebody's T-cell response to flu and, having done that, if it helps protect against getting flu. It's the first time anybody's done that in people."


New universal flu vaccine is injected into the arm and is taken up by healthy cells.

 Cells containing vaccine attract immune cells which multiply and move around the body.

 Immune cells now trained to recognise proteins inside virus, which enters body via airways.

Killer immune cells recognise flu-infected cells and destroy them along with flu virus.

The one-off once in a lifetime super-jab for all types of flu | Mail Online

Because it targets a different part of the flu virus to traditional vaccines, the new jab does not need to be expensively ­reformulated every year to match the most prevalent strain.

It could be stockpiled in advance and prevent pandemics such as the swine flu outbreaks of recent years.
Dr Gilbert added: ‘If we were using the same vaccine year in, year out, it would be more like vaccinating against other diseases like tetanus. It would become a ­routine ­vaccination that would be manufactured and used all the time at a steady level. We wouldn’t have these sudden demands or shortages, all that would stop.’

A T-cell vaccine could be on the market in five years if a field trial, of several ­thousand people, is a success.