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PROTOTYPE
Universal Flu Vaccine

A new influenza vaccine could protect against almost any strain of the virus, eliminating the need to create a new flu shot each year and the potential for shortages like the one faced by the United States last fall. Unlike current flu vaccines, which consist of inactivated virus and take months to manufacture, the new vaccine uses small snippets of viral DNA and could be made in only days or weeks. While DNA-based flu vaccines have been tested in the past, they have consistently proved less effective than inoculations of inactivated virus. A team at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, increased the effectiveness of its DNA vaccine by adding an injection of tucaresol, a drug being tested in humans against sickle cell anemia and AIDS. In mice, the results were comparable to those that inactivated-virus jabs had produced in prior studies. A tucaresol-DNA combination should provide long-lasting protection against the flu in humans, say the researchers

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