1918 Flu Survivors Still Have Killer Antibodies

Findings help fight against avian flu
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2008 5:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – The flu pandemic that killed up to 100 million people in 1918 left survivors with a strong set of antibodies—strong enough to still be viable today, Reuters reports. Mice given survivor antibodies managed to fight off the deadly flu when they were infected with the virus extracted from exhumed victims.

The virus-killing cells, despite having kicked around in the bloodstreams of the 91- to 101-year-old survivors for nearly a century, still had enough potency to save the infected mice. "If we can learn the rules about how these antibodies work we may be able to design antibodies to lots of other viruses," one of the researchers predicted. (Read more flu stories.)

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