Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Researchers Find Influenza has an Achilles’ Heel

Published: Friday, April 11, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, April 11, 2014
Bookmark and Share
The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.

Flu epidemics cause up to half a million deaths worldwide each year, and emerging strains continually threaten to spread to humans and cause even deadlier pandemics. A study by McGill University professor Maziar Divangahi published by Cell Press on April 10 in the journal Immunity reveals that a drug that inhibits a molecule called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) increases survival rates in mice infected with a lethal dose of the H1N1 flu virus. 

“Drugs that specifically target PGE2 pathways have already been developed and tested in animals, so our results have excellent potential for clinical translation, not only for the treatment of influenza, but other viral respiratory infections that interact with similar host immune pathways,” says senior study author Divangahi, who is also a member of the Infectious and Immunity Axis at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). 

Persistent threat to human health
Despite the worldwide use of vaccination and other antiviral interventions, the flu virus remains a persistent threat to human health. To investigate molecular pathways that could be targeted by new interventions, Divangahi, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine (Department of Microbiology and Immunology), and his team focussed on drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen,  commonly used to manage flu-like symptoms. By inhibiting a molecule called cyclooxygenase (COX), ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) lower the production of five major prostanoids—immune molecules that contribute to pain and fever.

“But since these drugs inhibit all prostanoids, each may contribute differently towards the immunity against influenza virus,” says Francois Coulombe, a McGill Ph.D. student and the study’s first author. “Understanding their individual role is crucial in developing a new therapy.” 

Enhanced antiviral immunity
Divangahi’s research team found that mice genetically engineered to lack a member of the prostanoid family, PGE2, showed remarkably enhanced immunity to flu infection. Most importantly, the vast majority of these mice infected with a lethal dose of the H1N1 flu virus survived. Similarly, mice treated with a compound that inhibits PGE2 showed enhanced antiviral immunity and produced better survival rates following infection with a lethal dose of the flu virus compared with untreated mice.

“Previous studies produced conflicting results due to the   inhibition of all prostanoids, not just PGE2,” Divangahi says. “Our findings suggest that different prostaglandins have different roles in antiviral immunity and that specific inhibition of PGE2 will be an effective therapy against influenza viral infection by boosting immune responses.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

His and Hers Pain Circuitry in the Spinal Cord
New animal research reveals fundamental sex differences in how pain is processed.
Monday, July 06, 2015
Researchers Find Influenza has an Achilles’ Heel
The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Scientific News
Boosting Breast Cancer Treatment
To more efficiently treat breast cancer, scientists have been researching molecules that selectively bind to cancer cells and deliver a substance that can kill the tumor cells, for several years.
Research Finding Could Lead to Targeted Therapies for IBD
Findings published online in Cell Reports.
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
Developing Drug Resistance may be a Matter of Diversity for Tuberculosis
Researchers have probed the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to learn more about how individual bacterial cells change and adapt while in the human body.
Surprising Trait Found in Anti-HIV Antibodies
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have new weapons in the fight against HIV.
Some Gut Microbes May Be Keystones of Health
University of Oregon scientists have found that strength in numbers doesn’t hold true for microbes in the intestines. A minority population of the right type might hold the key to regulating good health.
Essential Component of Antiviral Defense Identified
Infectious disease researchers at the University of Georgia have identified a signaling protein critical for host defense against influenza infection.
Single Vaccine for Chikungunya, Related Viruses May be Possible
What if a single vaccine could protect people from infection by many different viruses? That concept is a step closer to reality.
Is Allergy the Price We Pay for Our Immunity to Parasites?
New findings help demonstrate the evolutionary basis for allergy.

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos