The raging lung inflammation that can contribute to death from the flu can be stopped in its tracks by a drug derived from a naturally occurring human protein, a new animal study suggests.
In mouse studies, all untreated animals given a lethal dose of influenza died within days. All but one of the infected mice treated with the experimental therapy not only survived, but remained energetic and kept weight on — despite having high levels of the flu virus in their lungs.
The experimental treatment is a heavy dose of MG53, part of a family of proteins that plays an essential role in cell membrane repair. Already identified as a potential therapy for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to persistent skin wounds, MG53 was found in this study to prevent death from a lethal flu infection by blocking excessive inflammation — without having any effect on the virus itself.