Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Science: One For The Books?

We just might be on the edge of wining the war against the flue...

According to this intriguing piece of news, the universal flu vaccine has now been successfully tested in volunteers. For those in need of a flu vaccine mechanics refresher: the usual annual trivalent vaccine targets proteins on the surface of the flu virus (or rather the three expected to be prevalent in a particular flu season). As these viruses tend to evolve and change every year, you need a new jab annually (and it will be different to the previous year's). On the other hand, the new vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus, and also those that are common to all currently known (or at least most prevalent) strains. Therefore, you will be protected for much more than a year. But, as ever with this kind of thing, a word of caution: the results are very early, and the sample was very small. Still, it has been found that volunteers were less likely to contract flu, and had more T cells.

So, here's hoping that the next, larger scale trial will be at least as successful...