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Out of the Ordinary

A flu virus cure?

Flu “super antibody” can fight all strains of the disease

Going for a yearly flu shot may become a thing of the past. British and Swiss scientists recently discovered a flu “super antibody” that can fight several strains of the flu virus and could soon lead to one universal shot, Reuters reports.

After being tested on mice and ferrets, the F16 antibody was found to combat all 16 subtypes of the influenza A virus, which are responsible for causing disease in humans and animals.

A study published Thursday in the Science journal explained that when a person is infected with the flu virus, its antibodies attack the virus’ hemagglutinin protein. Since this protein evolves rapidly, flu vaccinations have to be changed every year to match the varying strains. A universal shot, which could possibly protect people for life, has been a goal for some time and “would be an invaluable asset,” said John Skehel of Britain’s National Institute of Medical Research.

But, with such a constantly mutating virus, you may be wondering how one treatment will ever be possible. Within the past few years, however, scientists have found that “there are parts of the viral coat that don’t change,” said director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, USA Today reports.

Approximately 3,000 to 49,000 people die from the flu virus every year and 200,000 are hospitalized, making the disease one of the main causes of preventable death in the U.S. “We might be able to end this epidemic,” Collins said.

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