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Flu virus weak spot found by Scripps Research scientists

As the world sneezes, wheezes and aches through the latest flu season, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute report what could be a key discovery for fighting the virus in its many forms.

In a new study, the scientists said they have found out how to neutralize the flu’s most notorious advantage, namely its ability to mutate around vaccines and drugs. This could lead to new methods to prevent infections, and to reduce their severity.

By seizing on a tiny molecular weakness shared by many Type A and some Type B viruses, the scientists have demonstrated in the lab how the flu’s ability to infect people can be thwarted. Moreover, the research applies to crossover infections from avian flu, a major concern in recent years.

While drugs based on this research are years away, the findings represent a major conceptual advance in the frustrating battle against influenza, say scientists who have examined the study.

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