Friend or foe?

Mackenzie, Debora
September 2003
New Scientist;9/6/2003, Vol. 179 Issue 2411, p36
The SARS virus didn't kill its victims directly — they died because their immune systems went into overdrive. Researchers are now scrambling to find ways to damp down such a response before the next killer disease emerges. Researchers aren't just worried that SARS might make a comeback — although that is still a real possibility. They are concerned because it seems to have killed people by triggering a runaway release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, in a so-called "cytokine storm" that can be more deadly than the virus itself. The key to treatment may be timing boosting the immune response before it has run amok, and damping it down later.


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