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Oxford University Tests Universal Flu Vaccine 218

dbune writes "A universal flu vaccine has been tested by scientists at Oxford University. '... the vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common across all strains, instead of those that sit on the virus's external coat, which are liable to mutate. If used widely a universal flu vaccine could prevent pandemics, such as the swine flu outbreaks of recent years, and end the need for a seasonal flu jab.'"
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Oxford University Tests Universal Flu Vaccine

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This... *sunglasses* nothing to sneeze at.


  • by outsider007 ( 115534 ) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:24PM (#35133812)

    counting toothpicks and knowing when to double down.

  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:26PM (#35133830)

    The worldwide death toll from the flu and its complications is in the hundreds of thousands []. This is potentially more than just preventing an occasional annoying illness. It's more on the order of preventing all fatalities from traffic accidents.

    • I'm betting it'll still get blamed for Autism, despite the vaccination being 1 mercury-free shot.
      Why? Because Autism won't go away 100% even if we only give one (or zero) vaccines.

      • What if they someday develop a vaccine (I'm using the term loosely, I know) that prevents Autism? Will the parents' heads explode with the dilemma?

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        If the crazy lines for the regular seasonal flu shot are any indicator, very few people are concerned about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't seek to undermine your important point, but I'd prefer to prevent all fatalities from traffic accidents. The people who die in car crashes probably have a better average quality of life and higher average remaining life expectancy than the typical person who dies of flu.
      • by jamesh ( 87723 )

        This is probably a bit of a stretch, but I remember driving home from work the day I came down with swine[1] flu. Nearly caused 3 accidents myself. In retrospect I should have gotten a lift home but like being drunk, you don't always appreciate how incapacitated you are at the time. Even without people dying as a direct result of the flu there is still a huge cost to it, even if you just count the sick days.

        [1] never actually diagnosed as 'swine flu' specifically, but it was at the peak of the swine flu sea

      • by mibe ( 1778804 )
        Well yes maybe you would prefer that, but unfortunately it is much harder to make a vaccine against traffic.
      • Preferring is about all we can do. The news here is one is potentially doable, the other is not. The vast majority of car accidents wouldn't exist if people obey the rules, all drove to the same high standard that they think they do, all had the same mentality and priorities of protecting road users. In reality someone is likely to cause a car accident rushing to get their flu shot because they are running late.
      • by Wolfier ( 94144 )

        The people who die in car crashes probably have a better average quality of life and higher average remaining life expectancy than the typical person who dies of flu.

        They also are more likely to be jackasses, too. So I'd much prefer a prevention of flu than fatalities from traffic accidents.

      • by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @09:23AM (#35136584)

        The people who die in car crashes probably have a better average quality of life and higher average remaining life expectancy than the typical person who dies of flu.

        No, I'm quite sure they're still both dead.

      • True, but traffic deaths are in tens of thousands, flu deaths are 1-2 million per year. You are not even comparing apple and oranges, you are comparing house cats, and smilodons.

    •     That's all we need. The world population is growing too rapidly, and they may just have a solution to fix it. Well, I guess we can all be happy in knowing that it will increase violent crimes (and traffic accidents), which should help deal with all those pesky extra humans.

          It may seem wrong to say that we shouldn't do it, but really should we screw with the natural controls on population any more than we already have?

  • Zombies (Score:5, Funny)

    by Goboxer ( 1821502 ) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:30PM (#35133848)
    Isn't this how most modern zombie movies start?
    • by Dynamoo ( 527749 )
      The novel "Feed" by "Mira Grant" (a pseudonym) does indeed use something similar as a premise. A cure for the common cold and a cure for cancer have unfortunately side effects when combined.. nobody gets a cold or cancer any more, but they do turn into zombies when they die.
    • I was thinking that exact same thing. The most recent remake of I Am Legend used just such a premise.

      But this got me to thinking, not only would this work against the flu virus it would probably work against herpes, HIV, etc.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )
    Bet it won't work against the Thelusian flu.
  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:45PM (#35133940)
    Will one shot be sufficient to turn me completely autistic? Or do I need booster shots? I'd better consult the best source possible: Jenny McCarthy. I hear she's, like, awesome with autism.
  • This will be great if the changes necessary to get around it make it unable to infect humans. After all, influenza does infect pigs and birds.

    FWIW, there's a bit of precedent here: no infectious form of syphilis has ever developed penicillin resistance. As I understand it, there have been some strains developed in laboratories that are penicillin-resistant, but none of them are capable of infecting human cells. IOW, there is a possibility that in mutating so that the proteins are no longer recognized by c
  • The Flu and the Common Cold are both viruses that mutate often, right? Would the same idea work for the common cold?

    Please excuse my ignorance if there is an obvious reason why this wouldn't work. My degrees are in computers not medicine.

  • The treatment – using a new technique and tested for the first time on humans infected with flu –

    You don't give vaccines to people who are already infected. I realize that this vaccine attacks a whole class, but it's not going to be much good on a specific virus that has already infected the body.

    • So does this mean you take the vaccine once (or twice) and never get the flu again ever?

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Most vaccines present weakened viruses so that the body's immune system will know how to fight it. Once it's gained a +5 Antibody of Influenza-Slaying, it can defeat the higher-level flu viruses.
      This treatment is a substance that boosts T-cell count, so it doesn't only work as a vaccine.

    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      It's badly worded, it's saying that they were deliberately infected after being vaccinated not that they were already infected when they were vaccinated.

  • Poor Randall Flagg...
  • the vaccine targets proteins inside the flu virus that are common across all strains

    Huzza! Resistant Virus strains of the world, UNITE! The time has come for those of us in minority to rise up against our new protein targeting foe! Our cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers have been killed by these anti-protein wielding vaccinologists!

    Behold the folly of their folly! They ignore us outliers, complacent that we have not the capability to fill the niches left by our lost brethren.

    TL;DR: Meh, mutants; The ones you don't target will become the next Flu epidemic -- Do we really wa

    • by mibe ( 1778804 )
      Just like the polio vaccine created super polio, and the smallpox vaccine created monstro-pox, which subsequently ravaged the greater Eurasian continent before - hey wait a minute! That's what I get for using Wikopedia instead of the real thing!
      • So, what you're saying is that if we can eliminate a virus to within five nines of total dead, the 0.001% won't be around to cause havoc... The polio vaccine didn't eradicate polio; in fact, new outbreaks in 3rd world countries have occurred [], how long until a mutation renders the current vaccines against polio ineffective?

        100 years? More? Meh, you won't be alive then, what do you care.

        Oh, and Smallpox is totally not a problem anymore. []

        Those 2010 outbreaks are surely just flukes. No cause for alarm folks,

        • Those 2010 outbreaks are surely just flukes. No cause for alarm folks, we've got that whole biology thing understood, constrained and conquered.

          In every single case of an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, it's easily traced to anti-vaccination hysteria. In other words, we do in fact have the biology understood; the only reason it's not "constrained and conquered" is because there's no vaccine for stupidity.

        • by mibe ( 1778804 )
          Your assertion that vaccines would create super bugs has historically been proven false. Those outbreaks were in places where vaccination rates and standards of care are low, and there is no evidence that they were caused by your hypothetical "unvaccinable" bugs (also: currently no usable vaccine for Yersinia pestis). Moreover, why should the prospect of eventually creating resistance deter us from preventing or curing disease? There is no inherent reason why this should be true. With antibiotics, your opti
    • IANAnE (Epidemologist) but I would think that the likelihood of creating virii that would be invulnerable to the vaccine would depend on whether there would be selection pressure to make it so. While the virii are being transmitted from human to human there is obvious selection pressure for those strains that are resistant. However I believe that most flu epidemics originate in animal (other species) hosts which serve as a long-term reservoir. It is when they cross the species barrier (typically in south

    • "Do we really want to breed viruses which are that much harder to kill?"

      I hate this argument, as it is akin to the following:
      "why do I have to take a shower, I'll just get dirty again"
      "why do I want to get better, I'll just get sick again"

      Yes, actually, we do want to breed more resistant bacteria. You know, because it would save the 36000 people that die annually in the United States alone (

  • Is it bad that I read this article while I was playing Pandemic 2 []? I wanted to take a shot at infecting Madagascar again, and now I realize that it's 4 hours later.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors