4-in-1 flu vaccine to provide lifelong coverage?

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New research shows a vaccine combining genes from four strains of influenza may one day prevail as a universal flu shot.

Mice that were given the vaccine, developed by a team at the Nebraska Center for Virology, survived after being exposed to lethal doses of nine different influenza viruses. Mice who received higher doses of the vaccine didn't get sick.  Researchers compared those findings to mice that received traditional flu shots or nasal sprays; that group became sick and died when exposed to the same nine viruses.

It's too early to determine whether the vaccine could be effective in humans, but researchers are positive it's a step in the right direction toward their goal of being “able to vaccinate once and provide lifelong protection,” said lead researcher Eric Weaver, Ph.D. He noted that even when matched properly to the current influenza strain, conventional vaccines can be less than 60% effective.

“An ideal influenza vaccine would be inexpensive, provide long-lasting immunity, require few immunizations and would work against all variants of the virus,” Weaver said.