But Palese noted that any drug or vaccine using antibodies would have to be better than what is currently available. "This finding promises that there is a way to develop a universal influenza vaccine," he said.
The antibodies are effective against about half of currently known flu strains, but the approach could be used to find additional antibodies that could work against the others, he said.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, also stressed that the effectiveness of the approach needs to be proven in people.
"Passive immunity is not a primary treatment in a pandemic," Siegel said. "Another problem is, we don't know if it works. What works in a test tube doesn't always work in the body. We don't know that these antibodies will actually work."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more on the flu.
SOURCES: Wayne A. Marasco, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Peter Palese, Ph.D., Horace W. Goldsmith professor and chairman, department of microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City; Marc Siegel, M.D., clinical associate professor, medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York City, and author, Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic; Feb. 22, 2009, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, online
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