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Blood Pressure Enzyme may be used to treat SARS

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Researchers from Canada, Austria and China may have discovered why SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is so deadly using laboratory mice.  The principal investigator Dr. Josef Penninger, head of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna, believes the protein called ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) not only plays a role in blood pressure regulation, but also may play a role in triggering acute lung failure (acute respiratory distress syndrome). The SARS virus uses a protein on cell surfaces as pathway to invade, as reported to the journal Nature. 

The researchers found that when the mice were infected with the SARS corona virus, the resulting drop in ACE2 caused their lungs to fill with fluid.  ACE2 was a crucial receptor for the SARS virus.  This triggered the lungs to fail. The researchers then injected the mice with bioengineered ACE2, which halted the SARS-induced lung damage.

 

When infected with SARS the body’s protective rennin-angiotensisn system is disrupted.  This system uses enzymes to regulate fluid volume in the body, sodium and blood pressure. The SARS virus binds ACE2, and when the ACE2 is disabled the lungs fill with fluid.  The ACE2 injections also kept the SARS from binding with normal cells.

The SARS Virus

Penninger said "It turns out that this key that SARS is using to enter our body is actually very, very important to protect from acute lung failure."   This discovery could help people suffering from other killer diseases also.  For instance, ACE2 might be used for treating sepsis (a blood infection), pneumonia, anthrax, human influenza and the new possible pandemic of avian flu. 

About half of the one million people with acute lung failure each year will die from it.  Many of the victims include newborns who aspirate substances into their lungs during birth. 

In 2003 774 people dies from SARS out of the 8,100 that fell ill from it.  This new research was funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austrian National Bank, Marie Curie Fellowship of the European Union, Beijing Committee of Science and Technology, National Natural Science Foundation of China, Joincare Corporation, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation and the German Research Council.


By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

 


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM