H1N1 aiding researchers in creating universal flu vaccine

Following a new study, researchers are believed to be one step closer to finding a universal vaccine for influenza.

The project, headed by scientists at Emory University and the University of Chicago, demonstrated that individuals infected with the H1N1 strain of the virus developed antibodies that could protect against a wide array of strains, according to AJC.com.

Experts say the results of the study could help end the annual race to find a seasonal vaccine to counter those strains that are most prevalent.

When the project began, the idea was to use antibodies from patients who had recovered from the 2009 H1N1 flu to develop a new treatment for those who became severely ill from the newest strain, AJC.com reports.

In the process, the researchers found five antibodies that were capable of binding with all of the H1N1 strains of the last decade, a potentially lethal strain of bird flu and the 1918 epidemic strain.

Patrick Wilson, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, told AJC.com that he believed nature has given us something that is one step closer to a universal vaccine.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It looked at nine patients recruited by Emory’s Hope Clinic who ranged in ages from 21 to 45 and had mild to life-threatening cases of influenza.