The first antibody which can fight all types of the influenza A virus has been discovered, according to American researchers.
Experiments on flu-infected mice, published in Science Express, showed the antibody could be used as an "emergency treatment."
It has already been suggested that some people who had swine flu may develop 'super immunity' to other infections. As a result, scientists from the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research looked at more than 100,000 samples of immune cells from patients who had the flu or the flu vaccines, reports Xinhua.
"As we saw with the 2009 pandemic, a comparatively mild strain of influenza can place a significant burden on emergency services. Having a universal treatment which can be given in emergency circumstances would be an invaluable asset," said John Skehel of Britain's National Institute for Medical Research, who worked on the study with colleagues from the privately-owned Swiss firm Humabs.
Antonio Lanzavecchia, Humabs' chief scientific officer and director of the Swiss Institute for Research in Biomedicine, said high rates of seasonal flu and the unpredictability of possible future pandemics underlined the need for better treatments that target all flu viruses.
When someone is infected with the flu virus, their antibodies target the virus' hemagglutinin protein, the researchers explained in their study, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science, informs USA Today.