Proteins targeted in hunt for universal flu jab

Scientists at Oxford University are testing a new universal flu vaccine that targets the internal proteins of the virus, which change very little from one strain to the next. The Phase I trial involves 12 volunteers.

"The current approach to influenza vaccination is unsatisfactory for use against seasonal influenza and of little use when new types of flu begin to infect humans from birds," said Dr. Susan Gilbert of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, which is leading the research. "It leaves manufacturers with just a few months to produce the necessary stocks, the vaccine then has to be administered to at-risk populations within a short time window, and those receiving the injection will have to be vaccinated again every year. By targeting the internal proteins of the virus, we can come up with a universal flu jab. The same vaccine would work against all seasonal flu and protect against bird flu."

- read the story in Medical Laboratory World