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Does influenza have an Achilles’ heel?

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THE OUTBREAK

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 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 . The findings pave the way for an urgently needed therapy that is highly effective against the flu virus and potentially other viral infections.

“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 also other viral respiratory infections that interact with similar host immune pathways,” says senior study author Maziar Divangahi of McGill University.

Despite the worldwide use of vaccination…

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