Scientists work to develop a flu shot that would protect against all strains

Seasonal flu shots only protect people from three or four strains of the flu, but what if you could get just one shot and be covered for all the strains?

Scientists at the University of Washington are working on a vaccine that would do just that and they're working on a way to do them without hurting the patient.

Lauren Reed is a busy mom. She realized that yearly flu shots may not protect 100 percent, but she's willing to take that risk.

But now two scientists in two different labs have been working on a universal flu vaccine - one that would protect against all strains. Now those scientists are working together.

Researcher David Baker is designing proteins to generate broad responses to flu.

"The proteins mimic the virus so that when you get immunized with the protein, your body sees that it's foreign and make a response. If it's similar enough to the virus, then the response to the vaccine will also be a response to the virus," he said.

The protein leaves the body, but the immune response remains active.

In her lab, Deborah Fuller identified genetic sequences to fight the flu, but people's immune responses weren't strong. Now, with Baker's protein platform and the gene gun she's developing, work on a universal flu vaccine is moving forward.

"We put the DNA and code it on small one micron-sized particles. Those particles are accelerated by a gene gun at a high velocity and then transferred into the cells of the skin," she said.

She said it doesn't hurt a bit. Now, she working on a gene gun for clinical trials - but those are about five years away.

Experts said the potential of the collaboration is big and they could use the approach to target other diseases such as HIV as well.
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