Coming Soon: Universal Flu Vaccine
Drug is successfully tested on humans for the first time
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2011 11:47 AM CST
In this Aug. 27, 2010, file photo, nurse practitioner Susan Brown prepares a flu vaccination for a customer in Rockville, Md.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(Newser) – Soon, you may be able to forget about getting a flu shot each year—because just one jab could cover you for all strains of the illness. Oxford University scientists tested a universal flu vaccine on humans for the first time, and found it to be successful, the Guardian reports. The vaccine works by targeting proteins inside the virus—which are common across the known strains—rather than those on the external part of the virus, which often mutate and require new formulas of the flu shot to be created each year.

The vaccine also works by boosting the number of T-cells in the body, which can destroy infected cells and thus fend off the virus. "If we were using the same vaccine year in, year out, it would be more like vaccinating against other diseases like tetanus," says the lead researcher. "It would become a routine vaccination that would be manufactured and used all the time at a steady level.” It could also help prevent pandemics, and save money and time when it comes to vaccinating large numbers of people, as it currently takes four months or more to develop a seasonal vaccine. Click for another potential universal flu vaccine.