Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Promising approaches for the treatment and prevention of viral respiratory illnesses
There are hundreds of viruses that cause respiratory tract infections. While most of us think about them as nuisances causing cough and wheezing, they bear a huge toll on health, especially in people who have lung diseases like asthma and COPD, as well as an economic toll in lost workdays and inappropriate use of medical resources. In this month’s issue of JACI, Papadopoulos and colleagues look at the treatment and prevention of these diseases (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017; 140(4): 921-932).
They look at new medications that target the specific viruses in their reproductive phases. In addition, they review how natural products like echinacea can prevent recurrent respiratory tract infections. On the other side, there are promising insights about the use of immunostimulators in order to boost the body’s own responses to these viruses. Vitamin D, probiotic supplements, exercise and meditation are all helpful in resolving these infections. But perhaps the most promising strategies are in prevention, where vaccines are being developed to prime the immune system to fight against viruses. Currently, vaccines are available only against influenza virus. There are other developments on the horizon and may have a tremendous effect on addressing these diseases. The authors conclude that multiple strategies are necessary and that there may be tremendous benefits in such research, especially when it comes to dealing with more severe diseases that can cause epidemics and pandemics.