The threat of a swine flu pandemic has prompted scientists and vaccine manufacturers to ramp up efforts to develop a universal influenza vaccine that can provide protection for years, if not a lifetime, against pandemic and seasonal strains. VaxInnate, Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis unit Acambis are exploring the M2 protein that is found inside the flu virus, and other researchers are focusing on isolating the hemagglutinin protein outside the virus as a starting point in creating a universal vaccine.

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