Universal flu vaccine comes closer

Researchers say they are closer to developing a vaccine to give life-long protection against any type of flu, after trials in animals. Two separate US teams have success with an approach that targets a stable part of the virus. That should remove the problem with current flu vaccines which must be given each year because of the mutating virus.
The proof-of-concept work is published in Science journal and Nature Medicine. Studies are now needed in humans to confirm that the method will work in man. In the meantime, experts say people should continue to receive an annual flu jab because vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself against infection.
Conventional flu jabs target molecules on the surface of the flu virus, but these are constantly changing. Imagine the flu virus as a ball with lots of lollipops on stems sticking out. The lollipops change year to year, but the stems remain the same. It is the stems that scientists are now focusing on as a target for a universal flu jab.
Many different research teams have been testing potential candidates, but it has been a technical challenge to make something that can be used in a vaccine without involving the lollipop ‘head’ of the hemagglutinin molecule.
This latest work seems particularly promising, according to Prof John Oxford, a flu expert at the University of London. He called the results a "red letter day" for science.
"This is a leap forward compared to anything done recently. They have good animal data, not just in mice but in ferrets and monkeys too. And they’ve done it with the bird flu virus H5N1," he said.