- Hi Jeff - We discussed this in depth two years ago on
your program. CNN is just getting around to this now? Rense Radio Program
and Rense.com are absolute cutting edge, for sure.
- LONDON, England (Reuters)
-- The 1918 Spanish flu that killed up to 50 million people worldwide caused
a severe immune response, which may help to explain why it was so deadly,
American scientists say.
- The pandemic was one of the worst in recorded history
and killed more people than World War I. But researchers did not understand
what made it so lethal.
- By infecting mice with a reconstructed version of the
1918 virus and monitoring their response, a team of scientists believe
they have found some clues to solve the puzzle as well as a possible new
way to fight pandemic flu.
- "What we think is happening is that the host's inflammatory
response is being highly activated by the virus, and that response is making
the virus much more damaging to the host," said Dr John Kash, of the
University of Washington in Seattle, who headed the research team. "It
is an overblown inflammatory response," he said in an interview, adding
that it could have caused a similar immune response in humans.
- Kash and his team, whose research is reported online
in the journal Nature, believe targeting the patient's immune system response
against the infection, as well as the virus itself, could provide a two-pronged
attack against pandemic flu. Scientists fear the next pandemic could occur
if the H5N1 bird flu virus that has killed more than 145 people since 2003
mutates into a strain that becomes highly infectious in humans.
- The Spanish flu pandemic was caused by the H1N1 influenza
strain. Unlike other flu viruses that afflict mainly the elderly and children,
the 1918 pandemic struck young adults and people without immune system
- One theory to explain its deadly impact was that a secondary
infection may have attacked Spanish flu sufferers whose immune systems
were already weakened.
- But Kash and his colleagues discovered that the reconstructed
virus activated immune system genes in the rodents and caused serious lung
damage and death.
- When they looked more closely at the animals' response,
they found several genes had been activated including those that are linked
to cell death. A second group of mice infected with a benign flu virus
had a less serious immune response and none died.
- "When the body responds to infection, there are
components of the immune system that can be beneficial and those that can
be harmful," said Dr Christopher Basler, of the Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York, who is a co-author of the study.
- The scientists are planning further studies to try to
understand why the immune system reacts so strongly to the virus.
- Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
- Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
- Univ of West Indies
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