Respiratory News 

The 2008-09 flu season has started out mild but scientists are trying to figure out why the dominant strain of flu circulating this year is resistant to the leading anti-viral drug, Tamiflu. The good news is that researchers have found out what made the 1918 flu pandemic so deadly – three genes that let the virus invade the lungs and cause pneumonia.

Researchers in Finland suggest “that surfactant protein A(SP-A) is linked to the pathogenesis of COPD and could be considered as a potential COPD biomarker” leading to the development of a sputum test for early detection of the disease. By comparing levels of a variety of proteins obtained from the lung tissues of healthy individuals, patients with COPD and those with pulmonary fibrosis, investigators found elevated levels of SP-A in the lungs and sputum of COPD patients.

People with moderate to severe COPD may be able to reduce the frequency of exacerbations through a regular, low dose of a common antibiotic. A London study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that twice-daily 250- milligram doses of erythromycin reduced exacerbations by as much as 35 percent.

CPAP treatment seems to improve cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease who also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to the results of a randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of California, San Diego.

A conservative estimate finds half of medications are not taken as prescribed. Maintenance inhalers are underused and rescue inhalers are overused. Most common controller medications as inhaled cortico- steroids, long acting bronchodilators, oxygen therapy and positive airway pressure are not used intentionally or because directions are not understood. A survey found 31% chose not to take their treatments since they were “feeling good.” Ask your health professional to advise, assist and arrange education for you.