New super jab could protect against all flu types
Post by Kelly Swift
on 29 July 2011 in Health & Wellbeing
A scientific breakthrough could see a new super-jab being offered to protect people against all types of the flu virus.
The discovery of a so-called ‘super-antibody’ by British scientists could mean a turning point for protecting the vulnerable against the threat of serious strains of influenza. While it could be used to give vaccines to everybody, its main benefit is thought to be in protecting the elderly, those with serious underlying health issues and pregnant women – all of whom can be more seriously affected by the virus than other groups of people.
Sir John Skehel, researcher and world expert on flu, said: “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 could be given in emergency circumstances would be an invaluable asset.”
Research shows that the current version of the flu vaccine protects just three-quarters of those who receive it, making this breakthrough particularly important.
Professor Antonio Lanzavecchia, who took part in the research, said: “The high prevalence of seasonal influenza and the unpredictability of new pandemics highlight the need for better treatments that target all influenza viruses.
“As the first and only antibody which targets all known subtypes of the influenza A virus, FI6 represents an important new treatment option and we look forward to taking it through to the next stage of development.”
Flu currently kills up to 12,000 Britons each year – the majority of them elderly – and it is hoped that this new antibody will be fully approved for use in as little as three years.