Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Universal Flu Drug Stops All Flu Types

'Antibody Cocktail' Would Protect Against Pandemic or Seasonal Flu


"If a pandemic flu variant arose in, say, Asia next week, many or most of these procedures could be greatly expedited. That would be my hunch," Liddington said.

In mouse studies using a deadly strain of the H5N1 bird flu, mice were protected even when given the antibodies three days after infection with an otherwise lethal dose of the virus. The finding suggests that the treatment could be used to snuff out the early stages of a flu pandemic by quarantining and treating everyone in the area of an outbreak.

Universal Flu Vaccine?

At the core of the breakthrough was the finding that the vulnerable part of the flu virus is not the part attacked by current flu vaccines.

Flu viruses attack by using a surface molecule -- hemagglutinin or HA -- to enter cells. HA is shaped like a lollipop, and antibodies raised by flu vaccines attack the large round head of the lollipop. But this region is extremely variable, making it easy for flu viruses to escape vaccines.

"The lollipop head tends to dominate the immune response during a vaccine response, while the stalk is somewhat hidden," Marasco said. "But this big, globular candy top is just a decoy."

The new antibodies attack what is now shown to be a much more vulnerable part of the flu virus: the lollipop-stick stem of the HA antigen.

So why not just use this antigen to make a flu vaccine? That might very well be possible.

"These antibodies pave the way for the generation of a different kind of universal flu vaccine," Ruben Donis, PhD, chief of the CDC's molecular virology and vaccines branch, said at the news conference.

But separating the stick from the lollipop is a lot harder than it sounds. The antigen has to be exactly the right shape, and the true three-dimensional shape of the HA antigen is more like three lollipops stuck together in just the right way.

Donis says a candidate vaccine based on the new antibodies is at least three to five years away.

And a vaccine may not be better than a treatment.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat