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Pandemic flu strain could point way to universal vaccine
Date:1/10/2011

The search for a universal flu vaccine has received a boost from a surprising source: the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu strain.

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.

"Our data shows that infection with the 2009 pandemic influenza strain could induce broadly protective antibodies that are only rarely seen after seasonal flu infections or flu shots," says first author Jens Wrammert, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Vaccine Center.

"These findings show that these types of antibodies can be induced in humans, if the immune system has the right stimulation, and suggest that a pan-influenza vaccine might be feasible."

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, say the researchers. 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 research comes from a collaboration between the laboratories of Rafi Ahmed, PhD, at Emory and Patrick Wilson, PhD at the University of Chicago. Ahmed is director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Wilson is assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago's Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research.

Scientists from Columbia, Harvard and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) also contributed to the study, which was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH, and by the
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Contact: Holly Korschun
hkorsch@emory.edu
404-727-3990
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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