Tags: influenza | protein | immune

Scientists Find new way to Combat flu

Friday, 27 July 2012 01:26 PM

Researchers have discovered a new protein that has the potential to kick start the immune system to fight influenza.
The discovery, by San Diego State University scientists, suggests the synthetic protein – identified as EP67 – could become a potent new weapon against the flu, which kills an estimated 36,000 Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The flu virus is very sneaky and actively keeps the immune system from detecting it for a few days until you are getting symptoms," said Joy Phillips, who led the study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE. "Our research showed that by introducing EP67 into the body within 24 hours of exposure to the flu virus caused the immune system to react almost immediately to the threat, well before your body normally would."
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EP67 has been primarily used as an adjuvant for flu vaccines to help activate the immune response. But Phillips, and co-researcher Sam Sanderson, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the new study shows it has potential to work on its own.
Because EP67 doesn't act on the flu virus, but instead activates the immune system, it functions the same no matter the flu strain. Phillips added that while the new study focused on the flu, EP67 may also combat other respiratory diseases and fungal infections.
"When you find out you've been exposed to the flu, the only treatments available now target the virus directly but they are not reliable and often the virus develops a resistance against them," Phillips said. "EP67 could potentially be a therapeutic that someone would take when they know they've been exposed that would help the body fight off the virus before you get sick."
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So far, EP67 testing has been done primarily in mice by infecting them with a flu virus. Those given a dose of EP67 within 24 hours of the infection didn't get sick or as sick as those not treated with EP67.
Future studies will examine the effect EP67 on other pathogens and how EP67 functions in different cells in the body.

© HealthDay

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Researchers have discovered a new protein that kick starts the immune system to fight influenza.
Friday, 27 July 2012 01:26 PM
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