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Future flu vaccine in the works

January 15, 2013 1:53:40 PM PST
The misery of the flu never ends because the flu virus outsmarts us time and again. It's constantly adapting and changing.

The dream for scientists-is a universal vaccine, one that works on all types of flu.

"We can never be content with the tools that we have," said Dr. Thomas Birch, Infectious Disease Specialist, and Medical Director of the Institute for Clinical Research at Holy Name Medical Center.

The vaccine we have now targets proteins on the outside of the virus but those are the ones that keep changing.

Most of the new vaccines that are in the works target proteins that are inside the virus, proteins that don't change or mutate. That would mean you don't have to get a flu shot every single year/

Also in the works, a new and faster way to make the vaccine. For now it's created in eggs, one dose per egg

"It takes 9 months to make this vaccine and we can't just ramp up production," adds Dr. Birch.

He adds scientists are now testing bio-engineering techniques using the genetic code of the virus to make the vaccine in the lab.

"If it can be done through bio engineering it would faster it would be possible to include more strains in the vaccine," said Dr. Birch.

And he and his team are about to begin testing a brand new drug to fight the flu. Funded by the Department of Defense, the new medication could fight strains of the flu that have already outsmarted drugs like Tamiflu.

The drug is still experimental but if the trials show that it works, it would be available in 3 to 5 years.

As for a universal flu vaccine, that is still about 10 years away.

Also said to be in the works is a vaccine that would be a patch, instead of a needle or nasal spray.

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Get more information about the flu from the Centers for Disease Control at CDC.gov.

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