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Novel Flu Treatment Strategies


The over-the-counter drug cimetidine is a histamine receptor type 2 (H-2) blocker approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for inhibition of gastric acid secretion or gastric and duodenal ulcer disease (Kubecova 2011; Scheinfeld 2003). Cimetidine has also been shown to augment the immune system. It appears to accomplish this by mitigating the effects of specialized immune cells called T-regulatory cells, which normally suppress immunity (Shin 2012; Arae 2011; Zhang 2011; Wang 2008). Since cimetidine enhances the immune system, it may be beneficial for combating various infections and has been utilized as an immune modulator for the treatment of several diseases such as herpes simplex infections and mucocutaneous candidiasis (Stefani 2009; Kumar 1990). However, since cimetidine stimulates pro-inflammatory cytokines and inhibits regulatory T cells (Wang 2008), it may exacerbate the development of a cytokine storm and should be avoided by individuals at risk for cytokine storm.

Statin-Class Drugs

Statins (eg, simvastatin, atorvastatin, and lovastatin) reduce serum lipids (ie, cholesterol) and are used to prevent and treat vascular diseases (Goldfine 2012). Further research into the actions of statin drugs has revealed that these drugs can down-regulate inflammatory immune responses to certain influenza viruses (Vandermeer 2012; Almuti 2006). A 2007 study found that moderate-dose statin users had a dramatically reduced risk of mortality from influenza and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) compared to non-statin users (Frost 2007). Furthermore, a 2012 study revealed that statin use may be linked with reduced mortality in patients hospitalized with influenza (Vandermeer 2012).