Scientists may be a big step closer to developing a vaccine that could combat all strains of the flu.
It could be one of the biggest discoveries ever in flu research a big step toward long lasting protection against seasonal influenza and the threat of bird flu or some other pandemic outbreak.
Dr. Wayne Morasco, Dana Farber Institute says, "we believe that this can lead to the development of a vaccine that gives us broad immunity against many different viruses of the influenza class."
So far the research is only in mice infected with human influenza but the researchers are confident it could move to tests in humans quickly.
"We really could be in clinical trials in the winter season of 2011 and 2012," says Dr. Morasco.
The big problem with the flu virus is that it mutates continually that is why public health officials now need a new vaccine every flu season and because it takes a full year to make vaccine, the vaccine often fails to protect against the virus that is actually going around.
The new research could solve that problem.
"We have identified a new area on the influenza virus that acts as an achilles heal. The virus does not have the ability to evade the immune system when the immune system is directed to this area," says Dr. Morasco.
By making antibodies against that achilles heal, the scientists have actually treated several strains of flu in mice and they will soon have a vaccine that can protect against most if not all strains.