H1N1 flu strain 'could lead to development of universal vaccine'
11 January 2011 00:00 in Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs
A universal vaccine covering a wide variety of influenza types could be generated via research into the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu strain.
Scientists from the Emory University School of Medicine and the University of Chicago have discovered that infection with swine flu leads to the development of antibodies that protect against numerous different forms of the disease.
This is the first time it has been shown that antibodies of this type can be induced in humans with the correct stimulus, with University of Chicago assistant professor of medicine Dr Patrick Wilson describing it as a "Holy Grail" for vaccine research.
"The surprise was that such a very different influenza strain, as opposed to the most common strains, could lead us to something so widely applicable," he said.
Further research will now look to investigate the immune responses of people who were vaccinated against H1N1 flu but did not contract the disease in order to gain more understanding of the process.
According to the most recent figures from the Health Protection Agency, at least 50 people in the UK have died from forms of influenza since the current flu season began in October 2010.
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Story collated for Zenopa by the Adfero News Agency