Universal flu vaccine ‘close,’ researchers say

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The “Holy Grail” is to create a universal vaccine that would protect against all strains of the flu, and researchers think they’re close.

Researchers from the Imperial College London say they have made a “significant leap” forward in developing a vaccine capable of protecting against all strains of seasonal flu, Medical News Today reported.

Since the flu virus’ surface proteins are always changing, vaccine developers are constantly playing catch-up, developing different flu vaccines each year to combat newly emerging strains.

However, the core of the flu virus changes very little from strain to strain, and previous research has suggested that some immune cells may already protect against this aspect of the flu.

According to Medical News Today, Lalvani and his team were the first to test this theory utilizing a “natural experiment” during a real pandemic – the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

The team found that those who caught the flu but only had mild or no symptoms had more CD8 T cells in their blood, while those who were severely ill had fewer CD8 T cells in their blood.  The researchers theorized that prompting the body’s immune system to create more CD8 T cells could lead to universal flu protection.

Fox News contributed to this report. Read more from Medical News Today.