Flu Leading To More Deaths

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Usually, when a person has flu, simple remedies are already okay. Flu simply hampers the person of doing the things he used to do because of discomfort. However, the person can experience a swirling doom when flu turned out to be an overreaction of the immune system leading to death.

Researchers from Journal Cell reported a severe immune response to flu called cytokine storm and how does it occurs by tracing its origin.

Flu, or commonly known as influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract which affects all age groups, with the children as the most susceptible age group. In most people, the infection results in the person getting fever, cough, headache, and malaise; some people also may develop a sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The severe immune response called cytokine storm is alarming. It is said to be the cause of many deaths during the worldwide influenza pandemic. Cytokines are any of a number of substances that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system which carry signals locally between cells, and thus have an effect on other cells.

Usual situation for the yearly occurring “conventional” or “seasonal” flu strains only includes about 0.1 per cent of mortality rate. However, there are situations in which some flu outbreaks are severe. These severe outbreaks occur when the human population is exposed to a flu strain against which the population has little or no immunity because the virus has become altered in a significant way.

In order to prevent death and save life from flu, researchers are now trying to study on new kind of flu therapy. “We are showing for the first time that you can actually separate the deleterious events from those needed to control the virus,” said Hugh Rosen, senior author of this study, from The Scripps Research Institute.

Michael Oldstone, a co-author of The Scripps, said: “It had been thought for a long time that all injury from influenza was due to the virus itself, consequently, and rationally, the focus was on developing antiviral drugs.”

The findings of the study propose that there are drugs which target the immune response of a person and offer a life-saving defense by protecting the infected person. This method can also prevent the virus to do adaptation which can develop to drug resistant strains of the virus. In addition, the researchers found the origin of cytokines to be present in the endothelial cells of the linings of blood vessels. Receptor site of cytokines which are very vital for it to function were identified as well.

Rosen says: “Now that we know where cytokines come from and have isolated the specific receptor-based mechanism, it is likely that a single oral dose of a compound can be developed that will provide protection from cytokine storm early in infection.” However, drugs that were used currently will still be essential for the treatment of flu.

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