New Approach to Curing Chronic Viral Infections
October 23, 2006 4:14 PM   Subscribe

Turning off anti-inflammatory response cures viral meningitis in mice. Chronic viral infections may one day be cured by suppression of interleukin-10 (IL-10).
posted by MonkeyC (9 comments total)
Excellent! These sorts of discoveries are exactly the reason I often think to myself "The only good news is science news." I've got the NewScientist rss feed in my list, but I missed this one, so thanks for the post.
posted by benign at 4:59 PM on October 23, 2006

Sure, if we turn off their anti-inflammatory mechanisms, they won't have meningitis anymore. But be prepared for an exponential increase in message board trolling.
posted by Kwine at 5:14 PM on October 23, 2006

That's good, because my spinal meningitis was really getting me down.
posted by wumpus at 5:49 PM on October 23, 2006

Yuck. I'd hate to see what the mouse's brain looked like after it got done with this. Scorched neurons, I'd guess.

Reminds me of this big Alzheimer's vaccine thing that happened a few years ago. A lot of folks were saying, "Hey, you'll never stimulate an immune response inside the blood-brain barrier - that area is immunologically privileged."

Those folks were wrong. In fact, a lot of vaccinated people - some unacceptable number in the double-digit percentage area - developed MS-like symptoms after receiving the vaccine. The trial had to be stopped, with a net result that many people who took part were harmed.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:28 PM on October 23, 2006

That's good, because my spinal meningitis was really getting me down.
posted by wumpus at 8:49 PM EST on October 23

wumpus you are a nerd.

also, ween.
posted by lyam at 1:51 PM on October 24, 2006

Fascinating post. Thanks.

It looks as if there may be an interesting possbility of a postive feedback loop in this: if you got an infection which became chronic and produced high circulating levels of IL-10, you would seem to be at higher risk of having any succeeding infection also become chronic, because the IL-10 is inhibiting some part of the immune system which appears to be necessary for complete eradication in some cases.

Over the years, you might accumulate a number of such infections, involving a range of organs. If you then got treatment such as these mice got to block IL-10, the roof might cave in-- your immune system could start attacking all kinds of unexpected, vital places, and you might find yourself very sick, indeed.

Some researchers, such as Paul Ewald, assert that a number of chronic degenerative conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, are likely to be caused in many cases by cryptic pathogenic organisms even though clincal evidence enough to convince the medical community has so far not been forthcoming.

It will be exciting to see whether patients with these chronic conditions turn out to have elevated levels of IL-10.
posted by jamjam at 2:13 PM on October 24, 2006

Hmmph. I really should have known better. IL-10 is a factor in Rheumatoid Arthritis, but that demonstrates nothing, because it could just be one of the ways the body is trying to suppress the general inflammation response that's causing the problem.
posted by jamjam at 3:22 PM on October 24, 2006

In fact, if a bunch of studies were to come out demonstrating that RA is associated with some infection, critics could now point out that the RA, by stimulating IL-10 production, could have caused the infection rather than the other way around.
posted by jamjam at 3:34 PM on October 24, 2006

People are looking very intently at interleukins and other components of the "cytokine cascade" in a lot of autoimmune illnesses, jamjam, as well as other dysfunctional immune responses like septic shock.

What's been clear so far is that our ability to identify molecules involved in these cascades is way ahead of our ability to improve the immune system's function with therapeutics; most of the compounds used have caused a great deal of harm. (IL-2 for certain cancers, and various interferons for MS and hepatitis are some of the exceptions to this rule.)
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:20 AM on October 25, 2006

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