The best way to combat influenza virus infection is to prevent it. However, the continual evolution of circulating influenza virus strains and the constant threat of newly emerging viruses forces the public health community to annually update seasonal influenza vaccines while stockpiling potential pandemic virus vaccines. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop a “universal” influenza vaccine that affords protection against all strains. In their recent article, L. M. Schwartzman et al. (mBio 6:e01044-15, 2015, doi:10.1128/mBio.01044-15) demonstrated that intranasal immunization of mice with a cocktail of viral-like particles (VLPs) expressing distinct influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) proteins can broadly protect against infection not only with the same viral strains but also with unrelated strains. These findings suggest a promising strategy for developing a broadly protective “universal” influenza vaccine.
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