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H1N1 provides new universal flu vax hope

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Thanks to the H1N1 flu virus, researchers may have found a key to developing a universal flu vaccine. According to a University of Chicago and Emory University study, people infected with H1N1 in 2009 developed antibodies to other flu strains. So, researchers believe that when given the correct immunogen, the body's immune system should stave off multiple flu strains.

"What is really new here is that there was a quantitation of how many of those cross reactive antibodies were made," said Peter Palese, chair of the microbiology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, to PBS. "It's very encouraging that people, humans, can make such antibodies in large quantities."

But study author Patrick Wilson still warns that a universal vaccine could be five to 10 years down the road. Still, the research provides valuable information, as the antibodies developed from the 2009 H1N1 strain attack the stalk of the virus, which is generally unchanged in various flu strains.

- see the PBS coverage

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