Fight the Flu, Ignore the Bug

At the start of this year's particularly worrisome flu sea-son, researchers at London Imperial college in the United Kingdom posed a comforting thought. Suppose the bug's nasty symptoms could be avoided without vaccination or antiviral drugs by targeting the immune responses responsible for influenza's misery. Their tests on mice showed positive results, they say. Maybe so, say the skeptics, but that doesn't prove how humans would respond.The Imperial College researchers have found that a recept

Philip Hunter
Jan 18, 2004

At the start of this year's particularly worrisome flu sea-son, researchers at London Imperial college in the United Kingdom posed a comforting thought. Suppose the bug's nasty symptoms could be avoided without vaccination or antiviral drugs by targeting the immune responses responsible for influenza's misery. Their tests on mice showed positive results, they say. Maybe so, say the skeptics, but that doesn't prove how humans would respond.

The Imperial College researchers have found that a receptor molecule called OX40 is overexpressed in T cells responding to a viral infection, but not in the remaining T-cell population.1 The receptor can be blocked using an OX40-immunoglobulin fusion protein called OX40:Ig. This, the researchers say, should temper overzealous immune responses in the lungs.

Tracy Hussell and colleagues, who tested the drug on mice injected with influenza type A, found that clinical symptoms such as congestion and high body temperature were virtually eliminated....

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