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article imageA new class of flu vaccine in development

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2012 in Science
Scientists are developing a new generation of flu shots which are aimed at stopping the flu virus from spreading. The vaccine aims to make the flu less virulent, so it spreads less, and to stop the flu virus from mutating.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that a new type of flu vaccines are being developed. The vaccines target the flu virus by shutting down the virus' ability to spread and to mutate. The vaccines have been termed "cross-protective" or "universal" vaccines. The vaccines aim to make a dose of the 'flu less severe so that it becomes more difficult for the virus to spread from person to person.
The vaccines are also designed to restrict the ability of the flu virus to mutate. According to HealthCanal, one way by which the flu virus spreads is by evolving, which enables it to evade the body's immune system. The researchers hope that the new vaccines will be able to prevent influenza epidemics.
According to Science Daily, the vaccines are being developed by a research team based at Princeton University and the research has progressed relatively well with some vaccines ready for human clinical trials. new, being developed in labs worldwide and some are already in clinical trials.
The website Futurity quotes the lead scientist, Nimalan Arinaminpathy, as saying that controlling the flu, which is currently akin to "chasing a moving target", could change from something medics have to react to and instead become more focused on prevention.
The initial research findings were published in the following journal:
N. Arinaminpathy et al. Impact of cross-protective vaccines on epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of influenza. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (8)
If the vaccine is successful it could potentially lead to a reduction in the risk of mass flu epidemics.
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