Researchers at Houston Methodist kept mice from getting the flu by removing a gene that regulates their immune system, according to News Medical. The study, which was recently published in Nature Immunology, reveals that mice missing the gene Trim29 eliminated the human influenza virus within 48 hours, protecting them from infection.

Immune cells around the lungs are the first line of defense against infections, notes News Medical. The gene Trim29, or Tripartite Interaction Motif 29, controls activation of lung immune cells after viral infections. The researchers infected mice without the gene with the H1N1 flu virus and compared their survival and amount of virus to normal mice. Mice lacking Trim29 survived with no detectable infection or virus.

“Influenza is the leading cause of death from infections worldwide. An effective treatment is vital, especially for children, the elderly and patients with compromised immune systems,” says Zhiqiang Zhang, PhD, lead author of the paper and assistant member of transplant immunology at Houston Methodist Research Institute. “Mice lacking Trim29 kept them from a full blown infection and completely cleared them of the virus. This finding points the way to a potential flu treatment.”

Source: News Medical