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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Statins fight flu

5th October 2006

01052006_birdflu1.jpgScientists believe that statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs, could play a key role in combating a flu pandemic.

In a letter to The Times, flu researchers say that preliminary evidence shows that statins may have such potential that further studies are essential. The experts say that urgent research is needed into the contribution statins could make as existing drugs and vaccines are unlikely to contain a flu pandemic.

The letter is signed by David Fedson, a retired Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia; Susan Chu, editor of the influenza website fluwikie.com, and Peter Dunnill, Professor of Biochemical Engineering at University College London, a leading expert on flu vaccines.

They say that although the potential use of statins has been known for approximately three years there appears to be resistance to further investigation.

Statins are known to reduce an extreme immune system response - a cytokine storm, which is often the cause of death in patients who contract virulent forms of flu. Studies looking at people who were already taking statins to lower cholesterol levels, who also contracted pneumonia, indicate that the drugs reduce death rates dramatically.

Statins, if shown to be effective, would greatly enhance the world’s ability to cope with a pandemic. There would be major advantages in treating a pandemic in this way, as statins are cheap and mass-produced.

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