Posted on May 06, 2011, 6 a.m.
A study on mice shows that granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor significantly reduces symptoms and prevents death after a lethal dose of flu virus.
Recent study results have sparked hope of a new treatment for flu. Homayoun Shams, PhD, of the University of Texas and colleagues studied the effect of pulmonary administration of granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in mice given a lethal dose of the influenza virus. Results showed that all of the mice treated with GM-SCF survived after being infected with the influenza virus, whereas untreated mice all died. The treatment also significantly reduced flu symptoms. GM-SCF works by boosting innate immunity, thus making it immediately effective against the virus. It was proven to be effective against the H1N1 strain responsible for the recent swine flu pandemic, and, so far, has not been shown to be strain dependant. "This proves the concept that GM-SCF, only in the lung, is sufficient to provide complete protection against infection with otherwise lethal doses of influenza virus strains," said Dr. Shams. "If additional work determines that delivery of GM-SCF to the lungs after onset of symptoms improves the outcome of influenza infection, this strategy has great potential to represent a new intervention to reduce morbidity and mortality from influenza in humans.”
Fang-Fang Huang, Peter F Barnes, Yan Feng, Ruben Donis, Zissis C Chroneos, Steven Idell, et al. GM-CSF in the lung protects against lethal influenza infection. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Apr 7. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201012-2036OC