Meth 'may help fight flu virus'
Methamphetamine, the bad effects of which include killing brain cells, fuelling tooth decay, loading the body with toxins and weakening the heart, muscles and immune system, could also have flu-fighting properties, a new research has suggested.
A team of scientists from the National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan studied how methamphetamine interacts with influenza A virus in lung cells, Fox News reported.
Previous research in this field had suggested that chronic meth abuse makes people more susceptible to pathogens like HIV.
The team wanted to find how the drug might reduce users' resistance to flu viruses.
The team took cultures of human lung epithelial cells, which they exposed to different concentrations of meth, and then infected them with an H1N1 strain of human influenza A.
Within 30 to 48 hours after infection, the meth-treated cells were found to have a much lower concentration of the virus than the control group, the researchers reported.
Also, this reduction occurred in a dose-dependent manner, meaning the more meth, the less the virus reproduced.
The researchers said that their study may help find other, safer compounds that have the same effect.
"This finding strongly encourages future work to investigate whether other compounds, structurally similar to meth, can inhibit influenza A virus production and be used to prevent or alleviate influenza A virus infection," they wrote.
Their study has been published in the journal PLoS ONE.