New flu therapy: active ingredient inhibits the spread of influenza viruses

New flu therapy: active ingredient inhibits the spread of influenza viruses

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Known drug showed unknown effects against flu

Influenza A viruses cause numerous flu diseases every year. There are always real epidemics with many deaths. The flu vaccine can only provide limited protection against illness, but is currently considered the most effective remedy for the virus. Finding an effective therapy against influenza poses a difficult task for science, because the flu viruses are genetically mutable and constantly form new subtypes. Now a research team has discovered a new effect in an already known active ingredient that could turn the tide.

Researchers at the Paul Ehrlich Institute - the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Medicines - tested how influenza viruses react to already approved active substances that were not specifically developed to fight the flu. They found that the active ingredient dextromethorphan inhibits the spread of flu viruses. Since the active ingredient has already been approved, a new anti-flu drug could be available within a short period of time. The results were recently presented in the specialist journal "frontiers in Immunology".

Old active ingredient with a newly discovered effect

A research group from the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Medicines used elaborate analysis methods to filter out candidates from known active substances, which have an effect on human cellular proteins. It is known that influenza viruses need such proteins to reproduce. This resulted in a group of 15 active substances that were tested in the laboratory and in animals for their effectiveness against influenza viruses. One candidate showed a particularly high potential. The active substance dextromethorphan led to a significant decrease in the amount of pathogens in the lungs in mice. He also increased the effectiveness of the antiviral agent oseltamivir. Infected ferrets showed a significant reduction in the severity of the flu disease after dextromethorphan.

What is dextromethorphan?

The active ingredient dextromethorphan suppresses the urge to cough and is used as a cough suppressant (antitussive). In addition, due to its effects on the nervous system, it has been approved since 2013 for the treatment of disorders of emotional regulation that can occur in the context of serious neurological diseases.

A new therapy option for influenza?

"Our data indicate that dextromethorphan could be a treatment option for influenza," says research director Professor Veronika von Messling in a press release on the study results. The active ingredient must now be tested on humans. However, since it is an approved active ingredient, the test phase should shorten immensely. (vb)

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Video: Influenza - The Flu Virus (November 2022).