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New study offers flu vaccine hope


A piece of the flu virus not affected by mutations could hold the key to a generic vaccine, scientists have claimed.

Researchers writing in the mBio journal said they had found a way of exploiting a vulnerability in the organism which had allowed them to develop a new treatment.

The team, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, focused their efforts on the hemagglutinin part of the virus, a mushroom-shaped structure which remains static during mutations.

Scientists on the project found a way to get to the protected “neck” of the hemagglutinin, after which it was cut out and used to develop a vaccine.

Tests on mice showed the substance protected them from otherwise lethal doses of multiple strains of influenza.

Flu viruses change constantly, with a new pandemic emerging every few decades.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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