ORONO — Researchers with the University of Maine are using an award of more than $430,000 from the National Institutes of Health to research immune responses to influenza.

The University of Maine says the scientists believe novel treatments that work independently of the effectiveness of current vaccines are important to controlling the spread of flu. Flu vaccines vary from year to year in effectiveness.

The scientists say a better understanding of the immune response to the flu virus infection is needed to develop new treatments. They’re doing their work as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is issuing a call to develop a universal flu vaccine.

Maine’s most recent flu season was the worst in five years. More than 9,000 cases were reported and there were 82 deaths.

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