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British aristocrat's corpse may hold swine flu key

July 28, 2009 15:10 IST

Scientists believe the corpse of a British aristocrat who died 90 years ago could provide vital information about the swine flu epidemic. Sir Mark Sykes, a Tory MP, soldier and diplomat, was one of 50 million people killed when Spanish flu swept the world in 1918. His body was exhumed last year in the hope that the Spanish virus could help them understand bird flu.

All three strains are part of the H1N1 virus but Spanish flu is thought to be the first.Boffins reckon that strains of the disease that killed him may have been preserved in his body and could be used to find a cure, reports The Daily Express.

Now, a research team led by Professor John Oxford from Queen Mary's School of Medicine in London shall review new samples from his tomb in the grounds of stately home, Sledmere House, in East Yorks.Prof Oxford said: "I suspect something really interesting could come out of this. We could identify a weakness of the virus. Any new knowledge about the 1918 virus, how it kills people and where it goes, could provide vital background information on analysing swine flu."

Source: ANI