Washington: Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found a potential way to develop universal flu vaccines and eliminate the need for seasonal flu vaccinations.Each year, seasonal influenza causes serious illnesses in three to five million people and 200,000 to 500,000 deaths.The 2009 H1N1 pandemic killed more than 14,000 people worldwide. Meanwhile, public health and bioterrorism concerns are heightened by new mutations of the H5N1 “bird flu” virus, published last week by the journal Nature, which could facilitate infection among mammals and humans.The research team, led by Prof. John Schrader, Canada Research Chair in Immunology and director of UBC’s Biomedical Research Centre, found that the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” vaccine triggers antibodies that protect against many influenza viruses, including the lethal avian H5N1 “bird flu” strain.“The flu virus has a protein called hemagglutinin, or HA for short. This protein is like a flower with a head and a stem,” explained Schrader, a professor in Medicine and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
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