Scientists Advance Toward Flu-Fighting Nasal Spray
Synthetic lipoprotein jump-starts body’s innate immune system (Sept. 12)
In an advance toward the development of a nasal spray that protects against infection with influenza and spread of the disease, scientists have identified a substance that activates the first-line defense system against infection inside the nose.
The findings were announced on September 12 by the American Chemical Society and were published in Molecular Pharmaceutics.
Dr. David C. Jackson explained that the body’s innate immune system forms a first line of defense against respiratory diseases such as influenza A, which causes up to 1 billion infections and 500,000 deaths during seasonal epidemics. Those defenses become active almost immediately when viruses enter the nose and begin launching an infection.
Scientists have been looking for ways to jump-start innate immune defenses during flu outbreaks. Dr. Jackson’s team turned to Pam2Cys, a synthetic form of a lipoprotein found in bacterial cell walls. The substance, consisting of a fat and a protein, has shown promise in activating the innate immune system.
The team found in laboratory tests that using Pam2Cys as a nasal spray primes the body’s immune system to fight infections. Importantly, they showed that the compound encourages but does not replace a normal immune response, which has been a concern about some antiviral medicines.
Because Pam2Cys stimulates the immune system against a wide spectrum of viral and bacterial attacks, the researchers suggest that it may be a particularly useful agent against pandemics and emerging viral strains.
For more information, visit the American Chemical Society Web site.