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Germ-Fighting Inhaler Could Fend Off Bioterror Agents
Date:12/3/2007

Makers say it may protect first responders, or people with weak immune systems

MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Mention inhalers and most people think of asthma, but new research shows that inhalers could become infection-fighting, lifesaving gear for firemen, emergency workers and other first responders.

They could also help protect people whose immune systems are weakened by chemotherapy or HIV, according to scientists who've tested the new inhaler in mice.

"We showed we can protect mice against all four major classes of pathogens: Gram positive bacteria, Gram negative bacteria, fungus and virus. So, it has protected against everything we tried," said study author Brenton Scott, a post-doctoral fellow in the pulmonary medicine department of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

His team was slated to present its findings Monday at the American Society for Cell Biology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Pneumonia, especially, is a significant cause of death for chemotherapy patients, so the researchers decided to see if they could protect patients against the disease by boosting immune activity in the lungs beforehand.

The team exposed mice to an aerosolized formulation called Aerosolized Lung Innate Immune Stimulant (ALIIS), a soluble bacterial extract.

They then challenged the mice with inhaled Streptococcus pneumoniae, the pathogen that causes pneumonia.

The untreated mice all died of the infection, but 83 percent of the mice that were exposed two hours following treatment survived, as did 100 percent of mice exposed between four and 24 hours later. Protection lasted as long as five days, the team said, and was also effective against a broad range of pathogens, including the bacteria responsible for anthrax, plague, tularemia, the fungus Aspergillus and influenza virus.

According to Scott, this broad-spectrum protection means
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