The flu virus looks like a ball with lots of lollipops on stems sticking out. All along scientists were trying to find a vaccine for the lollipop heads of the hemagglutinin molecule which change every year. Now, they focus on the stems which remain the same always.
Two separate US teams have found an approach that targets the stable part of the flu virus. It had been successfully tested with not just mice but with ferrets and monkeys too. And they’ve done it with the bird flu virus H5N1.
Researchers are closer to developing a vaccine to give life-long protection against any type of flu after animal trials to confirm that the method will work in man. The proof-of-concept work is published in Science Journal and Nature Medicine.
However, people should continue to take the annual flu vaccination to protect against infection. Prof Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at University of Oxford, said: “This is an exciting development, but the new vaccines now need to be tested in clinical trials to see how well they work in humans. This will be the next stage of research, which will take several years. So we are still some way from having better flu vaccines for humans,” she added.