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Medicine Science

New Study Finds Flu Virus "Paralyzes" Immune System 84

mmmscience writes with this excerpt from "A study coming out of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has found that the influenza virus manages to dysregulate the immune system, allowing other infections to thrive in the body. This discovery, coming at an opportune time as the world battles the new H1N1 flu outbreak, may be the first step in understanding why the flu can cause such high mortality rates in normally healthy individuals."
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New Study Finds Flu Virus "Paralyzes" Immune System

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  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @11:48AM (#27831861) Homepage Journal

    may be the first step in understanding why the flu can cause such high mortality rates in normally healthy individuals

    They speak generally about "the flu", but then use the extreme outliers of the Spanish flu of 1918, and the worst fears of the H1N1 virus, as their examples.

    My understanding was that the flu virus hits the immuno-compromised much harder -- the young and the elderly being the most at risk, with it being a day or two off work for people with normal immune systems.

    H1N1 is getting a lot of attention primarily because it was outside of the norm for the flu, hitting healthy individuals hard in Mexico, although not repeating that behaviour elsewhere.

  • NOT NEWS (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @12:10PM (#27832221)

    May I be the first one to suggest that this is not news?

    Most viruses combat the immune system... especially the innate immune system, which is largely responsible for the cytokine response. They have to, or the infection would never progress to clinical stages.

    Influenza is not an exception, and there is a mountain of literature about flu's ability to suppress innate immunity. There's hundreds of papers about influenza's ability to supress NF-kappaB, type I interferon, etc...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @12:16PM (#27832355)

    This offers me a bit of incite, especially with my powers of wild speculation!

    "Incite" and "insight" are two different words. You used the wrong one.

    (Bonus tip: though "site", "cite", and "sight" are all different words, "insite" isn't a word.)

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:11PM (#27833367) Homepage
    Actually, TFA didn't say much at all (surprise). Cytokine Storm [] has been a term used to describe the results of influenza on the immune system for some time now. The fact that it triggers the Toll-like receptor proteins [] isn't particularly surprising.I'm really not sure What the Big Deal TFA is supposed to be announcing. We already know this stuff and have known it for some time.

    Of course, this could be Nobel quality research and it would be hard to tell, but I'm not getting all warm and fuzzies here....
  • by gpronger ( 1142181 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @01:15PM (#27833435) Journal
    The article in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology [] raises a critical point, but is based upon some very limited patient data. For instance they classify the patients studied into "Severe", "Moderate" and RSV (not respiratory syncytial virus) and controls, with each group composed of 10, 5, 6, and 24 individuals respectfully. Also, the ages were relatively broad; for severe the average was 3.4 years (0.2-12.6 years), for moderate the average was 6.3 years (3 months-12 years), and the RVS group was 2.2 years (22 days-4 years), while the controls were 6.9 years (0.5-19 years).

    My point being is that the potential indication of the research needs to be picked up and validated with a more comprehensive study.
  • by Obispus ( 803786 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @03:45PM (#27836289)
    You don't seem to have understood TFA. A cytokine storm consists of an excess of cytokines, and study participants were indeed found to have elevated cytokine levels, presumably as a the response to the flu virus--although not at the point of actual storms occurring. Concentrations of toll-like receptors were found to be lower than normal, therefore indicating an immune system less resilient to other opportunistic pathogens (e.g., bacteria) that might ultimately cause the death of the patient.
  • For the record... (Score:2, Informative)

    by keith_nt4 ( 612247 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2009 @10:54PM (#27841247) Homepage Journal

    ...I work in an IT department of a hospital in Northern California. I don't wear the stupid masks, I haven't had any shots and I've been regularly going around to every possible department/area of the hospital during this whole flue scare for (and for the last eight months). I don't have the Swine Flu or whatever they call it these days. Actually so far as I've heard no one else I work with has caught it either. I hope everybody can start to relax about this!

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