Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have shown recently that another, more promising, approach is to focus on improving drugs that boost the body's natural flu killer system.
Emergence of new influenza strains, such as the recent avian influenza (H5N1) and swine influenza (H1N1 2009), can lead to the emergence of severe pandemics that pose a major threat to the entire world population. Recently, the concern regarding the emergence of such a pandemic arose when a new and deadly avian influenza strain (H7N9) was discovered in China, causing the death of six people in only one month.
The body's immune system can fight influenza infection. Natural killer (NK) cells, which are an essential component of this system, can recognize and eliminate influenza-virus-infected cells and inhibit the spread of the virus in the respiratory system.
But, as Ph.D. student Yotam Bar-On and Ofer Mandelboim, the Dr. Edward Crown Professor of General and Tumor Immunology at the Institute for Medical Research Israel Canada (IMRIC) of the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, have revealed in a paper published in Cell Reports
, the influenza virus is able to escape from the NK cells activity, allowing it to spread in the respiratory system.