Investigators ID antibody deficiency as culprit for severe flu

When mass public vaccination campaigns get started around the globe in the next few weeks, pregnant women will be given a preferential spot at the head of the line. And now researchers say that they have gained some insight into just why they're so vulnerable to swine flu.

Analyzing blood tests from pregnant women in an attempt to determine why they made up the single largest group of A/H1N1 influenza patients, a team of Australian doctors say that the root cause appears to be a common failure in an infection-fighting blood cell. Six of every seven of these women lacked the IgG2 subclass cell and the same antibody deficiency was also apparent in non-pregnant victims.

These IgG2 antibodies are known to play a role as an infection fighter, eradicating bacteria and help people fight off the flu. Now investigators want to set out to determine if immunoglobulin therapy would help people with the flu.

- read the story from Bloomberg