Study of­fers clue to link be­tween rare nar­colepsy cases, vac­cine


WASHINGTON - One vac­cine used in Europe dur­ing the 2009 swine flu pan­demic was linked to rare cases of a baf­fling side ef­fect - nar­colepsy. New re­search of­fers a clue to what hap­pened. The vac­cine Pan­dem­rix never was used in the U.S., and was pulled off the mar­ket abroad, but the sleep dis­or­der re­ports raised vac­cine safety ques­tions. On Wed­nes­day, re­searchers re­ported that the H1N1 flu strain con­tains a pro­tein that is struc­turally sim­i­lar to a nar­colepsy-re­lated brain cell re­cep­tor. They found that flu-fight­ing an­ti­bod­ies gen­er­ated by Pan­dem­rix also could latch onto that re­cep­tor. Pan­dem­rix con­tained more of that flu pro­tein than other vac­cines. The the­ory is that high an­ti­body lev­els could trig­ger the dis­ease in some­one who al­ready was ge­net­i­cally sus­cep­ti­ble.

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