Hundreds of Boston residents and some Boston University students who ended up in the emergency room with the norovirus this winter may take comfort in a recent research breakthrough that may help prevent them from getting infected next year.

The first isolated lab culture of the norovirus human strain, often responsible for causing stomach flu, was produced by researchers from Arizona University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Tulane University and the University of Arizona. The project, published this month in the Centers for Disease Control’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, came after 30 years of failed attempts to isolate the virus.

Timothy Straub, lead researcher at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said the research could eventually lead to a vaccine similar to a typical flu shot.

“[The new methods] may provide this critical link in developing new treatments and vaccines,” he said.

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