Swine flu vaccine guards against lethal 1918 virus

Last year's H1N1 flu vaccine proved a safeguard against the deadly 1918 Spanish flu, which has managed to raise fresh fears of its bioterror potential since researchers were able to painstakingly reconstruct a virus strain that had been considered extinct.

All the mice vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine survived exposure to the 1918 flu, which killed millions of people around the world. And most of the mice also survived the Spanish flu after being inoculated with a seasonal shot.

A team of researchers rebuilt the 1918 flu virus from samples taken from the long frozen bodies of flu victims in Alaska along with sequences extracted from samples of the virus.

"While the reconstruction of the formerly extinct Spanish influenza virus was important in helping study other pandemic viruses, it raised some concerns about an accidental lab release or its use as a bioterrorist agent," said study leader Adolfo Garcia-Sastre. "Our research shows that the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine protects against the Spanish influenza virus, an important breakthrough in preventing another devastating pandemic like 1918."

- here's the story from Reuters

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