A breakthrough that could lead to new treatments for those most at swine flu risk has been made by Melbourne, a young doctor at a Melbourne Hospital.
While attending to a 22-year-old pregnant patient, who was fighting for life, Dr Claire Gordon ordered an expensive and rarely used test of the patient's immunoglobulin sub-types.
AdvertisementThese are proteins that identified invaders for the immune system to hunt and destroy.
Gordan was surprised to see that the patient had extremely low levels of one particular sub-class, called IgG2.
She later ordered tests for other hospital patients with swine flu and found that the sicker they were, the lower their IgG2 levels.
However, when they were injected with the protein, the patients began to get better almost immediately - including the young mother.
"It was very exciting - this is the first time [IgG2] has been associated with swine flu," the Age quoted Gordon as saying.
"It gave us something else to work on and think about, an exciting clue to the puzzle," she added.
The hospital's head of infectious diseases, Professor Lindsay Grayson said, "For the first time, we may be able to explain why pregnant women are more likely to get swine flu, why some healthy people get severe swine flu and others don't."
"It could also answer why vaccines don't work for a small number of people."
The team will be conducting further studies to ensure that an IgG2 injection is a genuine "cure" for swine flu.
The study appears in journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.