Flu Research Finds Harmful Immune Response Researchers have infected mice with a replica of the deadly 1918 flu virus. As expected, all the mice died within days. But not because the virus directly destroyed the lungs. Instead, it triggered an overwhelming and self-destructive immune response. That fits with emerging research on one way viruses kill.
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Flu Research Finds Harmful Immune Response

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Flu Research Finds Harmful Immune Response

Flu Research Finds Harmful Immune Response

Flu Research Finds Harmful Immune Response

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Researchers have infected mice with a replica of the deadly 1918 flu virus. As expected, all the mice died within days. But not because the virus directly destroyed the lungs. Instead, it triggered an overwhelming and self-destructive immune response. That fits with emerging research on one way viruses kill.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Richard Knox reports.

RICHARD KNOX: The most striking feature of the 1918 flu is that it killed healthy young adults in days. Flu expert Michael Katze of the University of Washington.

MICHAEL KATZE: People were bleeding from their mouth. Their lungs were completely destroyed. I mean it was an extremely quick and dramatic death, very unlike most influenza virus symptoms.

KNOX: In this week's edition of Nature, they describe what happened when they infected mice with the replica.

KATZE: What this paper shows us is that there is a very dramatic response in the lungs of infected mice. In my view, the fate of the mouse is sealed minutes, certainly hours, after infection.

KNOX: Katze says no single gene from the flu virus is responsible for this immune storm.

KATZE: These viral genes, or these viral proteins, are talking to each other. They're coordinating with each other.

KNOX: Richard Knox, NPR News.

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