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Oct 05, 2016 12:02 PM EDT

Two New Universal Flu Vaccines Developed By Scientists To Protect Against Future Pandemics [VIDEO]

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An international team of researchers reportedly designed two new universal influenza vaccines that can prevent future pandemics, which could potentially kill millions.

An international team of collaborating scientists from the universities of Lancaster, Aston, and Madrid's Complutense recently published a study in the journal Bioinformatics, citing that they have designed two new generation universal flu vaccines - a USA-specific vaccine with coverage of 95 percent of known US influenza strains, and a universal vaccine with coverage of 88 percent of known flu strains globally.

Flu-related deaths could reach as high as half a million annually worldwide, as estimated by The World Health Organization (WHO). Vaccines and the virus itself vary yearly, and this fact renders last year's vaccine ineffective in providing protection. As recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone aged 6 months and older need to have vaccinations once every year.

It is now common knowledge that flu viruses constantly change and mutate. On their website, The CDC elaborates that the influenza virus can either "drift" or "shift."

Small changes continually occur in the virus as it replicates over time called "antigenic drift." These genetic changes cause the virus to have a different antigenic property. This, in turn, causes people to get the flu more than once, and is the reason vaccine research has to keep on going as the viruses keep evolving.

"Antigenic shift," on the other hand, happens abruptly, causing major change in the virus. A shift results in a new subtype of the virus that has emerged from the animal population. The variant of which is far different from the subtype in humans because most will simply have little to no protection against it, such as the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

The appeal of this development is that having a universal flu vaccine that can provide a lifetime of protection in a single shot may be a reality soon.

The team responsible for developing these new vaccines are currently active in seeking pharmaceutical industries to be their partners for a laboratory proof-of-principle test to synthesize their vaccine, as stated by Dr. Derek Gatherer in the video below.

For further reference related to this article, please click here.

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