Well yes! A good sleep can defeat the flu. This has been confirmed by the discovery of a protein, identified for the time being in the brains of mice, which improves the healing power of sleep and boosts physical recovery. The discovery, which is a result of the work of researchers from Washington State University and their supervisor James Krueger, who discusses the study in the journal Brain, behavior, and immunity, may help the development of innovative drugs for fighting the flu with new methods.
Pietro Calissano, from the Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine of the National Research Council (Inmm-CNR), is of the same opinion. As he observes: “For some years, numerous studies have shown that sleep has a very important ‘detoxification’ function; in other words, it eliminates the toxins produced during the day. Now this study has identified a molecular mechanism that explains why sleep is also important in fighting influenza. “This extraordinary discovery is the protein AcPb, a molecule produced in the brain. In order to discover the protein, the researchers examined the development of influenza caused by the H1N1 virus on two groups of mice, one ‘healthy’ and the other without the AcPb protein, which was genetically removed.
The ‘healthy’ mice slept more and displayed typical responses during sleep, while the group of mice lacking this molecule slept less and developed more severe symptoms, and had a higher mortality rate. Through this analysis and insights, the researchers have discovered how the AcPb plays a key role in regulating sleep and activating immune responses against viruses and bacteria. “It isn’t an earth-shattering discovery,” commented Calissano, “but it is certainly interesting. The study helps us to better understand the function of sleep; that is, why we sleep. It’s something that we take for granted, but that until a few years ago was a mystery and today we are beginning to understand. ”
The discovery could also lead to the development of a new type of drug, in the form of a nasal spray containing AcPb to help the body fight the flu.