Newly discovered enzyme could protect against flu

Researchers identified an enzyme that helps the lungs protect themselves against influenza, which could lead to new ways to control the flu, according to a study recently published in Cell Host & Microbe.

The research team from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, found that cIAP2 is able to steer the body away from an inflammatory and auto-destructive process called necrotic death. In a study investigating the role played by CIAP2 in mice with the H1N1 influenza A virus, the researchers found that cIAP2 keeps infected cells from dying and protects uninfected neighboring cells in the same tissue.

The enzyme increased the resistance of the lung to influenza infection and associated pathology. The cIAP2 allowed the host to better tolerate infection and subsequently reduce illness.

"It's a discovery that offers exciting new avenues for controlling influenza, since until now attempts to target the virus itself have proven challenging, especially in the face of emerging new strains of the virus," Maya Saleh, the lead researcher of the study, said.

Saleh and her team said the identification of this flu resistance pathway could lead to new avenues for future drug development.

"The results from our study now suggest that one effective way of countering influenza infections may instead be offered by enhancing the body's resistance to the virus," Saleh said.