Universal Flu Vaccine Shows Promise

April 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new, universal flu vaccine might protect against serious complications and death from different strains of flu, Saint Louis University researchers report.

This type of vaccine could prove important in protecting people against flu outbreaks, such as the current swine flu crisis.

Currently, new vaccines have to be developed each flu season to match circulating influenza strains. Adding a universal vaccine to a seasonal vaccine would boost protection against strains of influenza as they change each year, Dr. Robert Belshe, director of the university's Center for Vaccine Development, said in a school news release.

They tested a vaccine made from the strains of influenza viruses A and B on 377 healthy adults. The volunteers received three injections of the Bivalent Influenza Peptide Conjugate Vaccine (BIPCV) over six months. The low dose of the vaccine was well-tolerated and safe, and triggered a noticeable immune response.

While more research is needed, this study "is a significant step in developing a universal vaccine to help protect against pandemic influenza," Belshe said in the news release.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the National Foundation for Infectious Disease Conference for Vaccine Research in Baltimore.

"Novel vaccines, capable of inducing long-lasting, broad immunity against divergent strains, including potential pandemic viruses, are highly desirable," Belshe said.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University, news release, April 27, 2009

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