Wednesday, October 04, 2017 by Tracey Watson
Big Pharma doesn’t miss a single trick when it comes to making money out of human suffering, and just such an opportunity was recently handed to them on a platter, when researchers discovered that a cancer treatment drug has the potential to halt the flu virus in its tracks.
The U.K.’s Daily Mail is reporting that a team of cancer researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in New York, investigating drugs for the treatment of cancer tumors, accidentally discovered that one such medication can treat and speed up recovery from the flu virus.
The scientists explain that the flu virus turns infected lung cells into virus “factories” that produce thousands of infected cells that spread infection to others. This replication mainly takes place in lung epithelial cells, and the researchers discovered that the flu virus actually changes the metabolism of these types of cells. These changes cause a great change in the cells’ glucose and glutamine requirements – the building blocks of virus reproduction.
“Previously, little was known about how flu infection changed the metabolism of lung epithelial cells; but based on early evidence in this study we suspected metabolism was an Achilles heel of the virus,” explained Dr. Paul Thomas of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We were not disappointed.”
The research team decided to test several different drugs to try to target cell metabolism rather than trying to destroy the virus itself, and found that BEZ235 was able to successfully interfere with this metabolic process, halting the progress of the disease, easing respiratory symptoms and significantly improving survival figures in infected mice.
Interestingly, the researchers stressed the superiority of this type of treatment over the flu vaccine, which is usually advocated by the entire mainstream medical community. Flu vaccines are essentially a guessing game, with developers trying to predict which strains of flu will be prevalent in any given season.
Many strains of the flu have also reformulated and become resistant to anti-viral drugs.
“By focusing on changing how infected cells respond to the resulting metabolic stress rather than targeting a component of the virus itself, there is less risk that the virus will become resistant to the drugs,” Dr. Thomas noted.
Around 10 percent of Americans get the flu in any given year, about 28,000 end up in hospital, and over 3,000 people die as a result of complications or secondary infections. Many people reading about this medical breakthrough might therefore be understandably excited about it. And there can be no doubt that some or other pharmaceutical giant will be quick to leap on this new discovery and market it to the masses in a satisfyingly profitable way.
It is important to note, however, as Cancer Research U.K. points out, that BEZ235 has some really unpleasant side effects, including fatigue, diarrhea, feeling sick, loss of appetite and rash. And, at this point, there is no telling what the long-term side effects of this treatment might be.
On the other hand, there are natural treatments which effectively prevent the flu virus from taking hold, without nasty side effects. One of the most important of these is vitamin D.
The Vitamin D Council explains that numerous studies have found that people with low levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to the flu virus.
“Vitamin D works in the immune system by reducing levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines, as well as increasing the amount of antimicrobial proteins, which are naturally occurring antibiotics that destroy invading germs and viruses. This combination of lowering inflammation and increasing antimicrobial defenses can help an individual’s immune system fight infections more effectively.”
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that young Finnish men with low levels of vitamin D had significantly more days of absence from duty as a result of respiratory infection.
In Japan, doctors found that the risk of children contracting the flu virus was cut in half when they were given vitamin D supplements. The study, also published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that these supplements have no significant side effects, are inexpensive and freely available, and are several times more effective than anti-viral drugs or vaccines.
So, while at first glance the St. Jude’s study looks really exciting, the truth is, safer, cheaper and better alternatives to the flu vaccine and anti-viral medications already exist. There simply is no need for Big Pharma to throw another drug into the mix.