Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bird Flu Pandemic: Kills by Cytokine Storm?

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, during the 1918 pandemic strain of avian flu more than half the deaths occurred paradoxically among largely healthy people between 18 and 40 years of age.

The cause of death being a virus-induced cytokine storm that led to the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

This cytokine storm occurs when the lungs are under attack from a virus and the body's T-cells are activated. These cells migrate to the lungs to attack the microbes but they also initiate a second immune system attack called a "cytokine storm". This surge of chemicals causes lung inflammation and when severe can seriously harm or even kill the patient.

Click on the graphic to view an animation of the cytokine storm in action.

So where in the millions of dollar being spent on bird flu preparation, is the research on traditional and alternative products able to reduce the impact of the cytokine storm immune response?