January 11, 2011

Pandemic Flu Strain Could Point Way to Universal Vaccine

Several patients infected with the 2009 H1N1 strain developed antibodies that are protective against a variety of flu strains, scientists from Emory University School of Medicine and the University of Chicago have found. The results were published online Monday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Infection with the 2009 pandemic influenza strain could induce broadly protective antibodies that are only rarely seen after seasonal flu infections or flu shots



The antibodies isolated from a group of patients who were infected with the 2009 H1N1 strain could guide researchers in efforts to design a vaccine that gives people long-lasting protection against a wide spectrum of flu viruses. Next, the research team is planning to examine the immune responses of people who were vaccinated against the 2009 H1N1 strain but did not get sick.

The surprise was that such a very different influenza strain, as opposed to the most common strains, could lead us to something so widely applicable.

Reference: J Wrammert et al. Broadly cross-reactive antibodies dominate the human B cell response against 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus infection. Journal of Experimental Medicine. DOI: 10.1084/jem.20101352 (2011).



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