Researchers have found that the pandemic 2009 H1N1 vaccine can generate antibodies in vaccinated individuals not only against the H1N1 virus, but also against other influenza virus strains.
The new discovery, by Dr Rafi Ahmed and his team at Emory University, the University of Chicago, could lead to a "holy grail" flu treatment, wiping it out for good and saving millions of lives, the Daily Express reported.
Development of a "universal" influenza vaccine that protects against multiple viral subtypes has long been the goal of immunologists working to overcome the requirement for a new vaccine during each flu season and the need for a rapid response to potentially dangerous mutations.
"Our finding is a key step in the development of a vaccine that can produce high levels of antibodies that protect against multiple flu strains, including challenging mutations that have the potential for widespread illness and death," Dr Ahmed said.
The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.