Universal Flu Vaccine Being Made

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 01, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

The flu season is almost on, and for most parents, that means getting the kids to take flu shots before they get sick. The challenge, though, is that there are many viruses that could cause the flu. Researchers are currently working on a new universal flu vaccine that would be able to fight off most flu viruses.

A team composed of researchers from the University of Lancaster, University of Aston and Complutense in Madrid have come up with a flu vaccine that is said to protect from a majority of the flu strains known, according to Science Daily.

Two universal vaccines have been created. One vaccine for the United States has been made which could cover as much as 95 percent of all flu strains there. Another vaccine has been made which cover 88 percent of flu strains known globally.

Yearly flu vaccines have been used whenever the flu season comes near, The vaccines used though don't usually work, such as the time vaccines didn't work for the H3N2 strain that came in the winter of 2014-2015, as Dr. Derek Gatherer of the University of Lancaster noted.

Pandemic flu attacks have also been known. Examples of this are the Spanish flu of 1918 as well as pandemics in 1957 and 1968, as News Medical reports. With such outbreaks coming out every now and then, there is a need for a flu vaccine that can readily combat it when it happens. With the new universal flu vaccine being developed, designing it with the aid of computers has made things easier.

"We can use computers to design the components of a vaccine that gives much broader and longer-lasting protection," Dr. Gatherer said. Dr. Pedro Reche of the Complutense University also added that a universal flu vaccine could be made today. Short flu virus fragments, which are called epitopes, could be used for it. The epitopes are said to already be recognized by the human immune system.

With the new universal flu vaccine being made, the researchers are looking for more partners in the pharmaceutical industry that could help them develop the vaccine. They hope to create one that could be used for a lab proof-of-principle test.

The flu season is coming, and iTechPost reports of the best time to get flu shots.

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