Flu medicines may also treat gut diseases

London, Aug 26 (IANS) Certain flu remedies have the potential to treat intestinal inflammatory diseases caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli), new research has found.

“Derivatives of known flu agents such as Tamiflu and Relenza could be used for inflammatory intestinal diseases, which opens up new therapeutic possibilities,” said one of the researchers Thierry Hennet, professor at University of Zurich in Switzerland.

In their normal state, E. coli are harmless and only make up around 0.1 percent of the intestinal flora.

If present in large amounts, however, they can cause diarrhoea or a serious intestinal inflammation.

An overproduction of E. coli can be attributed to the availability of the carbohydrate sialic acid, which is found in large amounts in the proteins of the intestinal mucosa, the findings showed.

To actually be able to utilise the sialic acid, the bacteria enlist the aid of the enzyme sialidase, which is released by other intestinal bacteria.

An injury to the intestinal mucosa initially causes the increased multiplication of a non-pathogenic bacteria, which emits sialidase.

This increased enzyme production releases sialic acid, which facilitates an overproduction of E. coli and can thus cause intestinal inflammation.

The researchers also discovered that the intake of a sialidase inhibitor prevents the excessive formation of E. coli and was thus able to alleviate the disease symptoms.

Interestingly, such sialidase inhibitors were already developed against the influenza virus.

The findings were detailed in the journal Nature Communications.

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