A University of Maryland School of Medicine team has used a toll-like receptor 4 antagonist to treat influenza in mice.1 The results provide a repurposing opportunity for Eisai Co. Ltd.'s toll-like receptor 4 blocker Eritoran, originally developed for sepsis, and could extend to treating respiratory infections beyond the flu.
Vaccines and antivirals-namely neuraminidase inhibitors-provide the standard of care for influenza. But the limited efficacy of vaccines together with the increasing resistance to antivirals and their short therapeutic window has spurred a need for alternative strategies.
Previous work in mice has shown that infection with influenza virus, SARS or anthrax induces the production of cellular oxidized phospholipids and other molecules that activate toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling.2 This activation, which is independent of the receptor's usual ligand, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), triggers a cytokine storm that can result in acute lung injury.
Stefanie Vogel, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School