Scientists closer to flu jab

Scientists are edging closer to a universal flu jab after analysing data collected during the last swine flu epidemic. Researchers at Imperial College London found those with more virus-killing immune cells in their blood avoided severe illness.

Scientists found 'blueprint' for flu vaccine

Scientists have found a "blueprint" for a universal flu vaccine, according to the leader of a research project into influenza, said Professor Lalvan:

Our findings suggest that by making the body produce more of this specific type of CD8 T cell, you can protect people against symptomatic illness. This provides the blueprint for developing a universal flu vaccine.

We already know how to stimulate the immune system to make CD8 T cells by vaccination.

Now that we know these T cells may protect, we can design a vaccine to prevent people getting symptoms and transmitting infection to others.

This could curb seasonal flu annually and protect people against future pandemics.

– Professor Ajit Lalvani Imperial College London

Scientists closer to 'holy grail' flu vaccine

Flu vaccine
Scientists say they are one step closer to developing a universal flu vaccine. Credit: PA

British scientists are one step closer to developing a "holy grail" universal flu vaccine that would tackle all strains of the illness.

A successful jab would stimulate the body to create more immune cells capable of attacking the virus and could be effective at preventing new strains that cross into humans from birds and pigs, according to scientists.

Results from the 2009 swine flu pandemic showed patients with more virus-killing immune cells in their blood at the start of the illness, would avoid sever illness, researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) found.

Professor Ajit Lalvani from the National Heart and Lung Institute at ICL, who led the study, said: "New strains of flu are continuously emerging, some of which are deadly, and so the holy grail is to create a universal vaccine that would be effective against all strains of flu."

Influenza kills between 250,000 and 500,000 globally per year, according to the World Health Organisation.

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