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Antioxidants Could Be H1N1 Influenza’s Achilles Heel

December 8, 2009

Swine Influenza (H1N1) VirusA recent article from the FASEB Journal shows that antioxidants, largely found in plant-based foods, just may be H1N1 influenza’s Achilles heel. In laboratory testing they demonstrate the ability to prevent the H1N1 virus from invading and colonizing our lungs. The research, conducted by Sadis Matalon and his colleagues, also suggests that antioxidants can help in the treatment of H1N1 influenza.

The team of researchers discovered that influenza virus’ contain a protein called M2, which destroys or damages the epithelial cells of our lungs by removing liquid from inside, promoting the early stages of pneumonia as well as other lung problems.

The research was carried out in four steps. First, the lung protein was injected into frog eggs to measure its function. Second, the M2 protein from H1N1 virus and the lung protein were injected into frog eggs and the researchers discovered that the M2 protein caused the lung protein function to decrease significantly.

The team then isolated the segment of the virus M2 protein responsible for the damage to the lung protein and were able to demonstrate that without this segment, the virus was unable to damage the lung protein. Lastly, an intact virus M2 protein and the lung protein were then re-injected into frog eggs along with antioxidant drugs. The antioxidants prevented the virus M2 protein from damaging the lung protein. When these experiments were repeated using human lung cells, the results were exactly the same.

“Although vaccines will remain the first line of intervention against the flu for a long time to come, this study opens the door for entirely new treatments geared toward stopping the virus after you’re sick,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal, “and this discovery is another reason to drink red wine to your health.”

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