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Highs & Lows: Meth Inhibits Flu Virus, Study Says


Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is ranked as the world's second most widely abused drug after cannabis. The long-term effects of methamphetamine abuse are many including, addiction, psychosis, changes in brain structure and function, memory loss, aggressive or violent behavior, increased risk of infections with human immunodeficiency virus and possibly other pathogens, mood disturbances, severe dental problems and weight loss.

But guess what? Meth when used at pharmacologically relevant levels is capable of fighting influenza infections, suggests a new study conducted by National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan.

The study is the first to demonstrate that meth significantly reduces human influenza A virus replication, in sharp contrast to existing documents that suggest meth abuse decreases host resistance to pathogen infections due to its immunosuppressive property.

To know whether or not meth has the ability to enhance influenza A virus replication, the researchers exposed human lung epithelial cells to meth at different concentrations and infected them with human influenza A/WSN/33 (H1N1) virus. The concentration of virus in the meth-treated human lung epithelial cells and the meth-untreated group was calculated at various time points.

In a strange twist, the researchers found that meth significantly reduces, rather than increases, influenza infection because at 30 and 48 hours post-infections, the virus concentrations were significantly lower in the meth treated groups in a dose dependent manner than that in the control group.

Since it might not be a promising choice to use meth as an anti-influenza agent, other compounds which are structurally similar to meth can be tested as antiviral agents in further studies, say the researchers.

The study was published online Nov. 6 in the journal PLoS ONE.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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