Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arthritis Drug Might Prove Effective In Fighting The Flu, Study Suggests

Date:
May 26, 2009
Source:
University of Maryland Medical Center
Summary:
Researchers have found that an approved drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis reduces severe illness and death in mice exposed to the Influenza A virus. Their findings suggest that tempering the response of the body's immune system to influenza infection may alleviate some of the more severe symptoms and even reduce mortality from this virus.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have found that an approved drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis reduces severe illness and death in mice exposed to the Influenza A virus. Their findings suggest that tempering the response of the body's immune system to influenza infection may alleviate some of the more severe symptoms and even reduce mortality from this virus.

Related Articles


The scientists report in the June 1 edition of The Journal of Immunology, which is now available online, that mice infected with the Influenza A virus responded favorably to a drug called Abatacept, which is commonly used to treat people with rheumatoid arthritis. The mice had been given "memory" T-cells, or white blood cells that have been primed to fight the invading virus as the result of previous exposure to Influenza A.

"We found that treating the mice with Abatacept minimized tissue damage caused by the immune response, but still enabled the body to rid itself of the virus. The mice didn't become as sick, recovered much faster and had much less damage to the lungs, compared to mice that weren't given the drug," says Donna L. Farber, Ph.D., a professor of surgery and microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the study's senior author.

"Moreover, treatment with Abatacept significantly improved survival for mice infected with a lethal dose of influenza virus," Dr. Farber says. "The survival rate for the treated mice was 80 percent, compared to 50 percent for the mice that weren't treated."

She explains that the drug does not interrupt the immune system's early, rapid attack in the lungs, which helps to kill the virus, but it prevents "memory" T-cells from overreacting, which produces multiple negative effects. "It's this overactive immune response that can make you feel sick – and can also lead to pneumonia," she says.

The study's lead author, John R. Teijaro, a researcher in Dr. Farber's lab, notes that tissue damage caused by this vigorous immune response – often most prevalent in young, healthy people – is thought to be the leading cause of death from pandemic strains of flu, such as the avian flu and the 1918 Spanish flu. It is also thought to be true of the early cases of H1N1 "swine" flu.

Dr. Farber says, "We believe that our findings are very significant because they provide a potential new treatment for infection by the influenza virus – one that would dampen the immune response, yet still preserve its protective effects."

The researchers are now testing Abatacept in mice that have not previously been exposed to the flu virus, trying to determine how well they respond to the drug once they have become very sick. Instead of having "memory" T-cells, these mice have what are known as "naοve" T-cells, which have never been activated by being exposed to influenza previously. Depending on the results, Dr. Farber hopes to one day bring this promising new immunotherapy to the clinic for the benefit of patients.

E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs, University of Maryland, and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "The results of this study are very promising. Influenza is a significant public health problem, affecting millions around the world each year. We hope that this study – and Dr. Farber's continuing research – will pave theway for identifying an effective treatment," Dr. Reece says.

Abatacept, which is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and marketed under the name Orencia, is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is not approved for treating influenza.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

There are three types of seasonal influenza, A, B and C, and a number of subtypes of Influenza A, including a new strain of the H1N1 virus, also known as the "swine flu," which has recently emerged and caused illness and a number of deaths this year in Mexico, the United States and other countries around the world.

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent someone from getting the flu or having a serious case of the disease. An antiviral drug, Tamiflu, can help to prevent the flu virus from spreading within the body if it is taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.

Dr. Farber points out that an immunotherapy with a drug such as Abatacept would be effective against different strains of the virus because the target of the drug would be the immune system, not the virus itself. "We're very excited about the potential of developing a new therapy, which possibly could be given to people even after they are very sick," she says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Teijaro et al. Costimulation Modulation Uncouples Protection from Immunopathology in Memory T Cell Responses to Influenza Virus. The Journal of Immunology, 2009; 182 (11): 6834 DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.0803860

Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Arthritis Drug Might Prove Effective In Fighting The Flu, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526114803.htm>.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2009, May 26). Arthritis Drug Might Prove Effective In Fighting The Flu, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526114803.htm
University of Maryland Medical Center. "Arthritis Drug Might Prove Effective In Fighting The Flu, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090526114803.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins