Successful test of universal flu vaccine announced

British scientists have successfully tested a universal vaccine for influenza.

The new vaccine was recently developed by scientists at Oxford University, the Associated Press reports. It differs from traditional vaccines because it targets proteins that are inside the flu virus rather than those located on its external coat.

The two proteins that are located inside the virus are more similar to one another across viruses than those on the outside, meaning that a new vaccine would not have to be created for every strain.

Additionally, more traditional vaccines stimulate the immune system to create antibodies. The new vaccine stimulates the production of T-cells, which identify and kill already infected cells, according to the team, which was led by Sarah Gilbert.

"Fewer of the people who were vaccinated got flu than the people who weren't vaccinated," Gilbert said, according to the AP. "We did get an indication that the vaccine was protecting people, not only from the numbers of people who got flu but also from looking at their T-cells before we gave them flu.

"The volunteers we vaccinated had T-cells that were activated, primed and ready to kill."

It is believed that the new vaccine could be capable of defending against outbreaks such as the recent swine flu pandemic, which cost the British government £1.2 billion in vaccine preparation costs, according to the AP.