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'Universal' vaccines could finally allow for wide-scale flu prevention
Date:2/27/2012

" Arinaminpathy said. "Our model illustrates how we can control the flu this way, instead of simply reacting to it every few years.

"You can close schools and administer our current crop of vaccines and antiviral drugs as much as you want, but never realistically enough to stop transmission over any extended period of time," he said. "With the cross-protective vaccines, we may be able to finally throw a blanket on the transmission of all flu strains over the long term in a way that can impact the virus' evolution."

That said, the researchers indicate that cross-protective vaccines could buttress existing vaccines that provide strain-specific immunity by keeping viral evolution in those strains to a minimum. If so, the result would be that the universal vaccine would expand the existing arsenal of flu control rather than replace it, said Lloyd-Smith of UCLA,

"Flu control has been dogged by this problem that the virus just keeps evolving. It stays one step ahead of the traditional means of controlling it. So, with strain-specific vaccines, you're always chasing last year's virus," Lloyd-Smith said.

"By using the two vaccines in conjunction, we could get more mileage out of the strain-specific vaccines before they have to be changed," he said. "That gives us an edge in the ongoing evolutionary arms race that we're engaged in with influenza. Universal vaccines won't get rid of the flu completely, but they should take our control efforts to the next level."


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Contact: Morgan Kelly
mgnkelly@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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