A component of fish oil can zap flu symptoms, a new study reveals.
Flu, a highly infectious viral illness that evolves becoming increasingly resistant to drugs, may be combatted by a substance in fatty acids from fish.
Current antiviral drugs don’t protect the most seriously ill patients and are only about 60% effective in any event as new strains continue to emege.
But researchers, whose report is in the magazine Cell, have found a compound derived from fats found in fish oils prevents death in mice infected with influenza. It even works at advanced stages of the illness.
Study author Yumiko Imai from Akita University in Japan, said: ‘Given the potential for future lethal pandemics, effective drugs are needed for the treatment of severe influenza, such as that caused by H5N1 viruses.
‘We have identified a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of severe influenza that is effective under conditions where known antiviral drugs fail to protect from death.’
In an attempt to discover more effective drug targets for influenza, the scientists studied naturally occurring lipids derived from omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. The researchers tested the lipd PD1 on human lung cells that had been infected with various flu strains and found it stopped the the viruses from replicating.
Further tests on influenza-infected mice revealed treatment with PD1 in combination with an approved antiviral drug improved survival rates and worked even after the infection had started.
‘Our findings suggest that PD1could serve as a biomarker as well as a much needed antiviral drug for severe and lethal influenza virus infections,’ Imai says.