Almost a century after exposure to the 1918 Spanish flu, survivors’ white blood cells still recognize the virus
Even after 90 years, the immune system doesn’t forget the face of a mass-murderer. A new study shows that survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic still have immune cells that remember the culprit virus.
Such long-lived immunity was thought to be impossible without periodic exposure to the microbe that stimulated the immune system in the first place. But a study published in advance online August 17 and slated for an upcoming issue of Nature reveals that immunity to a virus can last nearly a century.
“This is a really extraordinary finding,” says Peter Palese,
a virologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in