While traditional vaccines can offer annual protection from the latest flu strains, the viruses mutate and evolve so fast that we're right back where we started the following year. That's where a revolutionary new vaccine could change everything.
Vaccines currently work by essentially teaching our immune systems to recognize a pair of key proteins, known as HA and NA, found on viruses. But those proteins constantly change, which is why we always need new vaccines. The key is to find a way to target something on the viruses that never changes, hence conferring lasting immunity against multiple flu virus strains. One previous proposal for a universal flu vaccine involves going after other proteins on the flu virus that don't evolve as quickly as the NA and HA proteins.