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Virology: protecting flu patients from themselves

Drugs that suppress the inflammatory response could reduce mortality risk for influenza patients when combined with standard antiviral care, new research shows. Several studies have suggested that a strong inflammatory response to infection with influenza may be linked to increased disease severity and risk of mortality. Oseltamivir, the standard course of antiviral treatment, may offer insufficient protection in such cases.

Researchers led by Ralf Altmeyer of the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai in China, however, have identified a promising combined treatment approach. They tested oseltamivir in combination with two different anti-inflammatory drugs in mice infected with H1N1 influenza. Compared to the antiviral drug alone, the combinations reduced mortality by up to 100% when applied prophylactically, and by up to 80% when applied therapeutically. Neither anti-inflammatory drug exerts direct antiviral effects, demonstrating the potential value of this approach to managing influenza.

Details about the article:

Reduction of influenza-virus-induced lung inflammation and mortality in animals treated with a phosophodisestrase-4 inhibitorand a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor

Geeta Sharma, Danilal Champalal Sharma, Leong Hwei Fen, Mukta Pathak, Nijaguna Bethur, Vishal Pendharkar, Malik Peiris, Ralf Altmeyer

Emerging Microbes and Infections, 2013, in press

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