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Universal Flu Vaccine Could Be A Medical Breakthrough

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - Imagine if the flu was about as common as diphtheria, measles, or other relatively rare viruses.

Researchers say if a universal vaccine being tested right now does what they hope it will, people would be able to get a flu shot once every five or ten years and be protected against any form of influenza.

As health officials report one of the most severe flu seasons in recent years, Rochester Clinical Research is one of five sites around the U.S. enrolling subjects in trial studies for the vaccine.

Lead investigator of the local study, Dr. Matthew Davis, says this vaccine is different than the current flu shot because it targets proteins in the flu virus.

"The proteins are remarkably conserved from year to year, so if you can get your immune system to recognize these proteins as something that is a foreign invader, then the antibodies will stay around from year to year."

Rochester Clinical Research islooking to enroll 100 people in the study. They're looking for healthy volunteers between 18 and 39 who have NOT had a flu shot in the last six months.

"We don't want people to assume it's going to work, but if the science is correct, people enrolled in this trial may get better protection from this vaccine that the current one you get commercially."

Early tests on humans and animals have shown the vaccine to be safe, Davis said.  Now, researchers want to understand how effective it is.

The deadline to enroll for the local study is January 31.