Swine Flu Produces Protective Antibodies
Against Other Flu Strains

Date: June 13, 2011

A recent study has found that people infected with H1N1 swine flu produce antibodies that are protective against a variety of flu strains, which may help scientists eventually develop a universal vaccine.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta recruited nine people who had been infected with the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, some of whom had been only mildly infected and some who had been severely infected and admitted to the hospital for treatment. Most had been treated with antiviral drugs. They then examined blood samples from both those patients and healthy controls and found that blood samples from the patients contained cells producing antibodies to the virus, while those from the healthy controls did not. Among the cells producing antibodies against pandemic H1N1, a considerable proportion produced antibodies that also could bind to a broad range of recent H1N1 influenza strains, as well as the Spanish H1N1 flu virus from 1918 and the bird H5N1 influenza strain. However, none of those antibodies could bind to the H3N2 influenza strain, which had been common in the previous year.

The researchers say this gives further support to the idea that vaccines that protect against a broader range of flu viruses may be possible. However, a universal flu vaccine is still a way off.