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Consider the work of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. They are developing a universal vaccine. When they inoculated mice, rabbits, and ferrets with the experimental therapy, the animals' antibody responses lasted for over 30 weeks -- long enough to be effective throughout flu season. The team intends to advance to human trials in the next two years. And then there's the research in llamas. Just a few months ago, a paper published in the journal Science posited that a nasal spray containing antibodies from llamas could be the key to universal flu prevention. Despite the promise of this research, many activists remain committed to ending animal trials. They believe that computer models and cell cultures are complete alternatives to animal research. But even the most powerful computers are insufficient to simulate all the chemical and biological processes at work in a living organism fighting a pathogen like the flu. Cell cultures can't capture all the other action going on inside a living body -- some of which may have an unforeseen impact on its effort to fight an invader like the influenza virus. Ferret models have yielded especially informative insights for researchers, since two of the most common flu strains in humans also naturally infect these animals. Within a decade, scientists could feasibly wipe out the all-too-common influenza virus, which kills hundreds of thousands of people each year -- as long as activists don't deprive them of the essential research. Matthew R. Bailey is president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research out of Washington, D.C..