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Researchers Making Progress In Developing Universal, H7N9 Influenza Vaccines

Researchers this week reported in the journal Nature Medicine that they are closer to producing a universal vaccine for influenza, “a constantly shifting target” necessitating new seasonal flu vaccines each year, BBC News reports. Ajit Lalvani of Imperial College London, “who led the study, told the BBC: ‘It’s a blueprint for a vaccine. … In truth, in this case it is about five years (away from a vaccine). We have the know-how, we know what needs to be in the vaccine and we can just get on and do it,'” according to the news service (Gallagher, 9/23). In related news, researchers at NIH recently “announced what appear to be the first human tests of a vaccine to protect against a particular strain of flu virus that public health experts worry could cause a massive loss of life worldwide,” CQ HealthBeat reports, noting the strain is the H7N9 influenza recognized for the first time in humans earlier this year in China. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Prevention at the University of Minnesota, “said in an interview Tuesday that the U.S. and the world remain a long way from having an effective vaccine against H7N9,” the news service writes, noting “a vaccine wouldn’t be available in sizeable quantities until 2015, Osterholm said when interviewed Tuesday” (Reichard, 9/24).