Plugging leaks to prevent influenza deaths

Most of us dread cold and flu season and for an unfortunate few, pneumonia is a more serious complication.

According to the World Health Organisation (worldwide statistics), influenza results in 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness each year, with about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths mainly among high-risk groups (young children, elderly or chronically ill).

Pneumonia accounts for 15 percent of all deaths for children under 5, and is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States for adults.

An excessive response by the body to the infection (what is called inflammation) is part of the reason why pneumonia leads to death.

The body's defense mechanism (immune system) triggers inflammation, which is beneficial in the beginning, as it helps remove the harmful bacteria or virus causing the infection.

As a part of the inflammation process, fluids and body's defense cells (white blood cells) leak out from blood vessels into the infected area.

Dr. Andrew Tan, who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore, has developed a novel solution that helps to recover from influenza infection.

Li Liang, the lead author from NTU explains that, "A protein called ANGPTL4 regulates blood vessel "leakiness", which allows white blood cells to enter the lungs in order to combat the infection." "The amount of ANGPTL4 produced will increase with more imflammation", explained Dr. Tan.

However, in many cases inflammation continues even after the cause of infection has been removed, leading to a build-up of fluid in the lungs and internal bleeding.
These patients take longer to recover and it has been shown in cases with severe infections such as avian flu and SARS that the excess inflammation caused more deaths than the initial infection.

Findings recently published in the journal Cell Reports, indicate that, by blocking the protein-ANGPTL4, blood vessels leakiness is reduced, thus controlling the inflammation process.

"Blocking this protein in mice suffering from pneumonia and influenza, helped them recover much faster than mice that didn't receive the treatment," said Dr. Tan. "We are able to control the natural response of inflammation, which in turn reduces the damage to the lungs. However, this treatment would be reserved for severe infection where inflammation is excessive."

Currently, clinical applications of this study are being explored by two biotech companies- Abcam (United Kingdom) and Adipogen Int. (United States).

Dr. Tan warns, "The development of human treatment could take up to eight years."

However, they are currently developing a 'diagnostic' kit which should be commercialised in about three years. The kit will help doctors diagnose the severity of pneumonia and effectiveness of the prescribed treatment.

When asked about other possible applications, Dr. Tan said, "We believe the treatment may be applicable to other diseases with inflammation accompanied by tissue leakiness, e.g. meningitis, tetanus, dengue fever amongst others."

Image credit:

Write a comment ...
Post comment

Olympiaturm Turns 50

Munich's Olympic Tower was  opened exactly 50 years ago - on February 22nd 1968 - for the first time. With its exactly 291.28 meters, it is to this...

Why Hillary Is Good For Your Health

Hillary the hawk at Stachus
Passing through the basement floor at Stachus these days you might not be sure if you can trust your eyes, as Hillary the Harris Hawk is likely to...

Oh dear, Obikes

Obike Muenchen
So far since launch, 6800 Obikes bikes have been positioned in Munich. More and more of these bicycles-for-rent are being deliberately damaged. Not...

Winter Tollwood 2017

Tollwood Winter Festival
Tollwood Winter Festival 2017 is currently taking place at the Theresienwiese in Munich.
This year's festival motto is: "We, all. Let's stand up and...

Engineering Jobs Fair in Munich

Munich Engineering Jobs - accepting CVs
The Association of German Engineers (VDI) is hosting its annual engineering recruitment fair on Thursday 16th November in Munich. The day-long event...

Second S-Bahn weekend maintenance closures

SBahn delays
For the second - and last - time of the year, the S-Bahn Stammstrecke (main line) will be out of service due to repair and maintenance works.


Munich Security Conference 2018 - City Center becomes a restricted area

Munich Security Conference 2018
This year's Munich Security Conference (MSC) will be held from February 16 - 18th, 2018 at the "Hotel Bayerischer Hof" again. On the agenda are, in...

Institutionalist Ciudadanos won the election, but pro independence parties retain majority

Ines Arrimadas, leader of Ciudadanos with 37 seats obtained most of the support from voters (25,3), but it wasn´t enough to break a majority of pro...

DB Sprinter Hits Technical Issues

It should have been the glorious end of a long and expensive journey; after more than 25 years of planning, political discussions, building halts and...

Is an Executive MBA Worth it?

Chicago Booth MBA
The Future of Business Education: Is an Executive MBA Worth it? Join Chicago Booth in Munich for a candid panel discussion and audience Q&A with...

Rosenheimerplatz Knife Attack - multiple victims

UPDATE: Munich police have now confirmed the man being held is in fact their prime suspect and the emergency situation is now over. UPDATE: a man...

Munich Top City for IT and Engineering

Munich top city for engineering jobs
Back in 2014, a study by the European Commission confirmed that Munich is the city that offers Information and Communication Technology (ICT)...

Advertise with The Munich Eye
Public Service Advertisements
Shades of Love
Spanish Finca for rent Web Site Optimisation
Newspaper sudoku