Canada researchers find clues to a universal flu vaccine

UBC researchers have found more clues that may help lead to the creation of a universal flu vaccine. Researchers discovered that the vaccine given against “swine flu,” or the 2009 H1N1 variety, triggered a series of antibodies that protect against many other types of flu.
These antibodies are effective because they bind to the stem of a flu protein called hemagglutinin (HA) instead of the head of the same protein like most flu vaccines do, said lead researcher John Schrader, director of the UBC Biomedical Research Centre.
“Current flu vaccines target the head of the HA to prevent infections, but because the flu virus mutates very quickly, this part of the HA changes rapidly, hence the need for different vaccines every flu season,” said Schrader. “Rather than attacking the variable head of the HA, the antibodies attacked the stem of the HA, neutralizing the flu virus.”

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Agence France Presse, Tue May 8 2012, Link to full text