Lifetime influenza vaccine begins testing

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are now testing a universal vaccine against influenza that is capable of lasting a person’s entire lifetime.

Dr. Gary Nabel of the NIH says the vaccine’s potential is enormous.

“We could immunize once or twice early in life, and give a lifetime of protection,” Dr. Nabel said, according to

While the head of a flu virus is significantly different in different strains of the flu and mutates frequently, the base rarely does. Experts went after the base alone by dosing animals with a vaccine made directly from flu virus DNA and then using another vaccine made from a weakened cold virus. It is believed that this method could lead to the destruction of multiple flu strains.

"The approach is to try and target parts of the virus that are shared among those different strains that circulate from year to year," Dr. Nabel said, reports.

The NIH experiments have succeeded in killing a virus from 2007, as well as one from 1934. It also managed to protect mice, monkeys and ferrets from avian influenza.

Clinical trials for the vaccine are now underway at the NIH for humans. In addition to the NIH development, a Seattle biotech company is working on a similar vaccine.

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National Institutes of Health

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