Viral enzyme clear cuts forest of protective molecules on lung cells in mice; blocking that enzyme reduces illness and incidence of death from subsequent infection by Streptococcus pneumoniae
Investigators at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital have shown in mice how the potentially deadly cooperation between influenza virus and bacterial pneumonia infections can be foiled, even if treatment is delayed and flu virus levels in the lung have peaked.
The St. Jude team showed that the flu virus enzyme neuraminidase (NA) strips lung cells of their protective forest of molecules called sialic acid. The unprotected cells are then vulnerable to subsequent infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. But treatment of the mice with the NA-inhibitor drug ostelamivir blocked the activity of flu virus NA and offered significant protection against pneumonia. The studys findings appear in the March 15 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Bonnie Cameron | EurekAlert!
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