A universal flu vaccine delivered by a simple nasal spray is a step closer, a University of Adelaide research has suggested.
Darren Miller and colleagues have successfully trialled a synthetic flu vaccine in mice.
Miller said current flu vaccines relied on health authorities being able to predict what the forthcoming viral strain would be and reformulating the vaccines each year.
"This is extremely time consuming, labour intensive and expensive and it's something that a universal vaccine could overcome," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.
"A simple and totally synthetic universal vaccine, one that is not derived from an influenza virus and does not require annual reformulation, would have clear advantages in health clinics to control and prevent the spread of flu," he said.
The Adelaide researchers used specific peptides delivered to the noses of the mice. These peptides trigger an immune response to a tiny region of the flu virus that is present in all influenza A and B strains, which effectively neutralises the virus.
The test vaccine provided mice with 100 per cent protection against a laboratory strain of the H3N2 virus and 20 per cent protection against the H5N1 strain, also known as bird flu.
Miller said those results were consistent with the protection levels achieved with commercially available anti-influenza drugs.
Miller added a nasal spray would offer advantages over an injection, providing for non-invasive delivery and offering protection for people afraid of needles.
The findings have been published in the Journal of General Virology.