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Statin drugs come with bonus positive prevention attributes

Statin drugs come with bonus positive prevention attributes

The recent Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology had an article about statins and asthma. The attention was not just for these drugs’ cholesterol-lowering properties, but also their immune-modulatory and anti-inflammation effects.

You might remember that several years ago there was concern for a possibly highly lethal global flu pandemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended stockpiling not only anti-flu medication, but also statins. This is because they can prevent death from an otherwise lethal flu infection thanks to these bonus effects they include.

Well, apparently these same benefits are leading to better asthma outcomes.

A longtime study comparing two asthma groups, one of which was on statins, showed reduction in both rescue inhaler and steroid-burst use and fewer ER visits for the group on statins.

Also of interest are new guidelines for statin use. These new recommendations are to use lower doses, as it seems a large part of the benefit of statins in heart disease is owing to their reducing blood vessel inflammation, not just cholesterol levels. This anti-inflammation effect occurs with lower doses, which are less likely to lead to side effects.

Dear Doc: One-time flu shot in the pipeline?

Dear Doc: One-time flu shot in the pipeline?

Dear Dr. K: I heard there is work being done on a one-time flu shot. Is this true?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and with any luck, there may also be a one-time flu vaccine. Before I discuss this new research let me review the current vaccine.

Traditional influenza vaccines target the globular outer region of the viral hemaggluttinin protein. This part of the protein is constantly changing and accounts for the new strains of flu seen each year. Moreover, for each year’s vaccine to work, scientists must accurately predict these new strains so that the vaccine is effective.

The new vaccine research is targeting the stem of the hemaggluttinin protein, which rarely changes. This stem protein is found across the board in all influenza strains. Thus, eliciting antibody production to this common protein will create broadly neutralizing immunity to all flu viruses. Therefore, one vaccine will prevent all types of flu.

Researchers have already tested this vaccine in mice and it protected them from a lethal dose of flu. If further tests in animals have success, human studies will soon follow.