This site is intended for health professionals only

Vaccine to combat all flu strains

Scientists have discovered a new vaccine that could give people a lifetime's protection from all strains of flu, preventing everything from a winter virus outbreak to a bird flu pandemic.

Research into FLU-v has yielded encouraging results so far, according to biotechnology company PepTcell, which is based in High Wycombe.

The company now hopes to start the first trials of the vaccine, lasting three to five years, next year.

People could simply take two courses of injections a week apart that may provide lifelong immunity.

Existing flu jabs target a pair of proteins on the surface of the virus, but these constantly mutate, making it impossible to prepare for each new strain in advance.

However, the new vaccine is based on other proteins that have not mutated for 60 years.

Instead of using antibodies to kill the virus, the new jab relies on other immune system cells called cytotoxic T cells.

PepTcell head of business development, Dr Stuart Robinson, said: "Biotechnology developments always carry a risk, but we are now fully justified to do the necessary safety work to support an application to the authorities to commence clinical trials."

He added the development could see huge savings for the NHS, as currently £22m a year is spent on hospital admissions for mainly elderly people suffering from flu.


Copyright © PA Business 2007