Novel approach shows great potential in reducing mortality from flu

April 23rd, 2011 - 2:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 23 (ANI): A new approach by researchers has shown ‘great potential to reduce the morbidity and mortality from flu’.

A research on mice has shown that the pulmonary administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) significantly reduces flu symptoms and prevents death after a lethal dose of influenza virus.

While GM-SCF therapy for humans as a flu prophylaxis or treatment may be years away, the study results were striking: All of the mice treated with GM-SCF survived after being infected with the influenza virus, whereas untreated mice all died from the same infection.

“Such unique and unambiguous results demonstrate the great potential of GM-CSF and may be the remedy for a critical public health priority: developing strategies to reduce the morbidity and mortality from influenza,” said Homayoun Shams, principal investigator of the study.

Genetic mutations of influenza virus reduce the potency of flu vaccines, and a vaccinated person may contract flu, develop complications and even die due to poor host immune responses to vaccine or mutated virus strains.

GM-SCF boosts innate immunity to make it immediately effective against the virus, and its protective effect has not been shown to be strain dependant so far. Alveolar macrophages (AM), which are enhanced by GM-SCF, are an essential piece of the innate immune response and are known to contribute to host defense against flu infections in animal models.

“Unlike a vaccine, GM-SCF does not rely heavily on the body’s ability to mount an immune counter-attack against a specific antigen or virus strain, but enhances the speed of local responses to virus infection and delicately balances the host immune responses,” explained Shams.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. (ANI)

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