Could Meth Be Used To Treat The Flu?
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Flu symptoms such as fever, nausea, fatigue, headaches, sore throat and body aches can be difficult to deal with, but new research out of Taiwan claims that there may be a radical new possible treatment for such ailments — methamphetamines.
According to a report published Thursday by the Huffington Post, the researchers “exposed human lung cells to varying quantities of meth, then infected them with Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, a common subtype of human influenza.”
Twenty-four hours later, a control group of epithelial cells that had not been treated with the illicit drug contained the same concentration of the virus as the test group, but at the 30-hour mark, the group of cells that had been treated with meth contained “significantly” lower concentrations of the virus, and two full days after infection, the difference between the treated and untreated cells was “even more pronounced.”
Writing in the November 6 edition of the journal PLoS ONE, authors Yun-Hsiang Chen, Kuang-Lun Wu, and Chia-Hsiang Chen of the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) in Taiwan report that the psychostimulant that they used for the study was obtained in powder form from the country’s National Bureau of Controlled Drugs. The substance was then “dissolved in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) at a concentration of 250 mM, sterilized by filtering through membrane filters with a pore size of 0.2 µm, and stored at −20°C until use.”
The cells used for the study were specially-prepared human lung epithelial A549 cells.
The authors wrote that their findings “demonstrate that meth has no apparent cytotoxic effects on A549 cells at the pharmacological concentration range, but can significantly inhibit cell proliferation at high concentrations in a dose dependent manner,” and that “meth, used at a pharmacological concentration range, can attenuate rather than enhance influenza A/WSN/33 (H1N1) virus propagation in vitro.”
They believe that the substance could be targeting “the viral replication stage rather than the entry or adsorption stage in the infected cells, resulting in the reduction of virus production.”
“The suppression of viral replication is not due to inhibition of viral biological activities, reduction of cellular survival, or enhancement of infection-induced IFN responses,” the authors added. “Although further in vivo investigation is needed, our results suggest that meth might not enhance influenza A virus infection and spread among meth abusers. In addition, elucidation of the mechanism(s) responsible for meth’s action on influenza A virus replication may help to devise novel strategies against influenza A virus infection in all populations.”
Despite the findings, and the possibility that it could produce future health benefits, experts aren’t recommending that people begin taking meth in order to help fight off a bad case of the flu.
“Although the results could lead to new flu treatments it’s not good to self-medicate,” CBS Las Vegas explains. “Meth still reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and previous studies found that meth reduces the body’s ability to fight off diseases, such as HIV… Meth is also extremely addictive and leads to tooth decay.”