Crystal Meth Could Reduce Susceptibility to the Common Flu

November 21, 2012

Biology

methamphetamine-flu

Image by James Thew/Shutterstock

Researchers suggest that a small dose of methamphetamine, i.e. crystal meth, could reduce the replication of the human influenza virus.

The scientists published their findings in the journal PLoS ONE. Scientists from the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan and the University of Regensburg in Germany have been working together to see how methamphetamine interacts with different viral infections.

Chronic use of methamphetamine can dramatically increase the risk of viral infections since it suppresses the immune response of the human body. The scientists wanted to test this phenomenon with the influenza virus. They took out human lung cells and cultured them in a lab before exposing them to methamphetamine. Then, the cells were exposed to the H1N1 influenza virus. Instead of increasing the rate of development and spreading the virus, methamphetamine seemed to reduce the susceptibility to the flu.

This experiment tested only one strain of the flu. There’s no indication yet if methamphetamine would protect against the various strains and mutations of the flu existing worldwide. The methamphetamine was also tested on cells, not real patients or animal models.

This suggests that methamphetamine, in low levels, could be used as a way of reducing the risk of contracting some influenza strains.

[via Gizmodo]

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