If the claims made by a group of Australian researchers are true, the medical science already possesses a weapon that could be exploited to effectively combat the deadly swine flu and largely decrease the death toll owing to the pandemic. According to a group of researchers in Australia, they have discovered a hint regarding the reasons that make swine flu a life-threatening disease. During the course of their research, these scientists found that when women become gravely sick after being infected by the new H1N1 virus during their pregnancy, the intensity of a particular antibody that is identified for its role in combating viruses as well as enable the body to respond to vaccine depletes drastically.
In addition, the scientists have found that the levels of the antibody were not as low or restrained in women who were somewhat sick. According to Dr. Lindsay Grayson, the director of infectious disease at Austin Health - a group of three hospitals in Melbourne, they think that they might have chanced upon something very exciting. The scientist further said that they believe that it was for the first time ever that a link or relationship has been noticed between critical flu of any type and a restrained, but conceivably significant immune deficiency.
The researchers stumbled upon the detection when Dr. Claire Gordon, an associate of Dr. Grayson, called for an examination that observed the levels of antibody, not merely by their category, but also scrutinized the separate sub-groups enclosed by those categories of antibody. The order for investigation was given in the case of a critically ailing person whose condition was deteriorating exceptionally rapidly and the group researches was deliberating if administration of immune globulin, a blood produce enclosing antibodies collected from donated blood would be of any help to cure the patient. The examination confirmed that the level of the antibody known as IgG2 was deficient in the patient. According to Dr. Grayson, the results of the test came as a surprise to them. As a result of this, the scientists began calling for similar tests on all the patients admitted to the hospital's ICU owing to swine flu infection.
In an interview from San Francisco, where the findings of the report were presented at the annual convention of the American Society for Microbiology - ICAAC, Dr. Lindsay Grayson said that during their examination of all the patients admitted to the ICU with swine flu infection, they came across a startling revelation. Surprisingly, they discovered nearly all the patients suffering from a deficit IgG2. The researchers found that the level of IgG2 in the acutely ill patients was approximately one third of what was present in patients who were somewhat ill.
So far, the researchers have only conducted examinations of pregnant women suffering from swine flu infection. However, Dr. Grayson and his colleagues are of the view that it would be worthwhile to expand the purview of their research and include other patients too as subjects of their study, to find out if the IgG2 deficit is able to make clear as to why only a small number of victims of the swine flu infection suffer seriously, while the majority of such persons simply endure the flu only for a short while.
Dr. Grayson has stated that previous researches have shown around two to twenty per cent people normally suffer from some type of antibody shortage. However, not everyone among these people would be suffering from deficiency of IgG2. He further said that three of the four seriously ill patients who were treated with immune globulin managed to survive contrary to the forecasts made by people who looked after these patients. Chief Microbiologist at Toronto Mount Sinai, Dr. Donald Low said that although the findings of the Australian researchers are basically a sort of groundwork on the subject, they are definitely likely to explicate the reason as to why the natives are more vulnerable to acute illness if they happen to be infected by the new H1N1 virus. According to Dr. Low, the theory regarding the use of immune globulin to treat acutely ill swine flu patients needs to be researched further.
Dr. Donald Low says that a further research into the subject would be something similar to a fishing exploration, but, at the same time, he asserts that such a move would definitely be valuable. He said that the end result of the matter is that this hypothesis is something that needs to be thoroughly investigated. According to him, the research may well result in a remedial inference and possibly will be an indicator for women who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill when they are contaminated by the H1N1 virus. Contrary to the views of Dr. Donald Low, Dr. Anand Kumar, an expert on intensive care unit (ICU) from Winnipeg who has attended several critically ill swine flu patients during the last spring and early summer, was not very positive regarding the findings of the Australian research team.
In a e-mail message, Dr. Anand Kumar said that the findings of the research by Australian team of scientists was nothing surprising to him as this is what he had anticipated in any person falling gravely sick following infection by the new H1N1 virus. Dr. Kumar who is also an expert on infectious diseases said that during serious illness it is very natural that the level of all antibodies would decrease and it is directly proportionate with the acuteness of the ailment. In other words, the more severe the ailment is, the greater is the fall in the antibody level. At the same time, Dr. Kumar was of the view that treating the swine flu patients with antibodies collected from other people does make sense. However, he emphasized that the immune globulin should be essentially harvested from people who have convalesced from a bout of swine flu and possess the antibodies that are precise to the H1N1 virus.
Dr. Lindsay Grayson has acknowledged that at this juncture, his team members were not sure whether there is a cause-and-effect association at work in this case. In other words, this means that lower level of IgG2 in patients incline them to suffer more acute illnesses once they are infected by the H1N1 virus. However, Dr. Grayson is not ready to accept that the opposite is at work, meaning that the contagion by the virus results in low levels of IgG2.
Dr. Lindsay Grayson asserted that he does not believe that the swine flu is responsible for the low IgG2 levels, but it is on the contrary. It is this new virus H1N1 that is affecting people who are already suffering from a deficiency of the IgG2 antibody. According to Dr. Grayson, the number of people who become severely ill following contagion by H1N1 is still definitely very less and the issue needs to be explored further, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. At the same time, he pointed out that the cases of swine flu infections are on the decline in Melbourne. Nevertheless, Dr Grayson admitted that presently around 16 out of 19 acutely sick swine flu patients suffered from extremely less content of IgG2 antibody in their system in comparison to three out of 20 patients H1N1 infected patients who endured restrained sickness.
The group of researchers from Australia examined healthy women enduring pregnancy and discovered that approximately 60 per cent of them suffered from low IgG2 antibody levels to some extent. This finding has actually made them think that this may perhaps be one of the alterations in the immune systems that happen in order to enable pregnant women to hold a foreign body, a fetus, without discarding it. However, Dr. Grayson has pointed out that it is important for them to find out if the IgG2 level in these women goes up to the standard level after giving birth to their babies.
Dr. Lindsay Grayson has admitted that although his team's findings are yet to prove their theory, it is essential for the medical practitioners in the Northern Hemisphere treating the most acutely suffering swine flu patients in the ensuing weeks and months to consider examining their IgG2 antibody levels as well as making use of immune globulin - a blood product that is frequently administered to gravely sick patients infected by some kind of bacteria.
He said that in several respects this means application of the universal rule that most medical practitioners use to treat diseases caused by bacterial infections. Now, they have made a significant study and the same may be applied to treat patients suffering from flu, especially those who are critically sick following infected by the new H1N1 virus, Dr. Lindsay Grayson concluded.