Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New approach to defeating flu shows promise

Date:
April 23, 2011
Source:
American Thoracic Society
Summary:
New research on mice has shown that pulmonary administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) significantly reduces flu symptoms and prevents death after a lethal dose 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.

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

Related Articles


"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, PhD, principal investigator of the study.

The results were posted online ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Each year, flu infects 3 to 5 million people worldwide and is responsible for 250-500,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. 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.

Vaccinations work by activating the host's adaptive immunity in advance of infection. However, if the immune system is compromised, a vaccination may not provoke an adequate immune response to confer protection. Additionally, vaccine-induced immunity takes time to develop. If an individual is exposed shortly before or after being vaccinated, the vaccine will likely have little or no effect on his or her immunity.

"Improved methods to protect against influenza are sorely needed, particularly in the face of an impending pandemic. Development of such methods hinges on understanding host mechanisms that confer robust protection against influenza," said Dr. Shams. "Despite the widespread use of vaccines, influenza causes significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world, and those with poor immune systems are particularly more susceptible -- such as very young, elderly or immunocompromised individuals."

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 Dr. Shams.

Dr. Shams and colleagues wanted to test the idea that boosting AM by introducing GM-SCF would protect against flu. They used three types of mice to test their hypothesis: wild-type (WT) mice, transgenic mice that do not express any GM-SCF (GM-/-), and transgenic mice that express GM-SCF only in the lung (SPC-GM). They infected all three strains of mice with lethal doses of influenza virus. After progressive weight loss, all WT and GM-/- mice died within days. In contrast, all SPC-GM mice survived, and they gained back the weight they initially lost after a short period.

"This proves the concept that GM-SCF, only in the lung, is sufficient to provide complete protection against infection with otherwise lethal doses of influenza virus strains," said Dr. Shams. "This finding delineates a novel means of conferring marked resistance to influenza through enhancing innate immune mechanisms that depend on AM. We found that SPC-GM mice that overexpress GM-SCF only in the lungs are highly resistant to infection with laboratory and clinical influenza strains, including the recent pandemic swine H1N1 strain."

GM-SCF is already in use in humans as a therapy for neutropenia, and Dr. Shams hopes to eventually test its effectiveness in clinical trials for preventing or treating flu exposure. "If additional work determines that delivery of GM-SCF to the lungs after onset of symptoms improves the outcome of influenza infection, this strategy has great potential to represent a new intervention to reduce morbidity and mortality from influenza in humans," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Thoracic Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F.-F. Huang, P. F. Barnes, Y. Feng, R. Donis, Z. C. Chroneos, S. Idell, T. Allen, D. R. Perez, J. A. Whitsett, K. Dunussi-Joannopoulos, H. Shams. GM-CSF in the Lung Protects Against Lethal Influenza Infection. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201012-2036OC

Cite This Page:

American Thoracic Society. "New approach to defeating flu shows promise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110422090110.htm>.
American Thoracic Society. (2011, April 23). New approach to defeating flu shows promise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110422090110.htm
American Thoracic Society. "New approach to defeating flu shows promise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110422090110.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
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