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ST. LOUIS -- GenoMed, Inc. announced today that it believes its patent-pending treatment approach may halt any further troop deaths due to pneumonia. The "pneumonia" actually appears to be the result of an unusually intense allergic reaction to the anthrax vaccine, and not due to an infection at all. Some troops who received the anthrax vaccine later developed pneumonia-like symptoms. A small number have died from lung failure.
A 2002 paper by Sever and colleagues reported that anthrax vaccination can induce an allergic reaction in the lung which can mimic the flu or even pneumonia, in approximately 0.2 percent of vaccine recipients. The logical treatment is immunosuppression, which usually means steroids. But clinicians aren't eager to use steroids for a disease that could be an infectious pneumonia, for fear that they will be contributing to the patient's death if she has an infection rather than an allergic reaction. It's often impossible to tell which is the case while the patient rapidly worsens.
A milder, safer form of immunosuppression is therefore needed. This is where GenoMed's patent-pending approach comes in. Angiotensin II is a greatly underappreciated cytokine, responsible for activating antibody-producing B cells, macrophages, and helper T cells. All three cell types may contribute to the hypersensivity pneumonitis seen after anthrax vaccination.
Turning off signaling by angiotensin II with an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) ought to be a safe way to immunosuppress vaccine recipients who are possibly having a bad reaction. ARBs, and their cousins, the ACE inhibitors, have been used for many years, and no patient has ever seemed immunosuppressed. Taking an ARB at the time of vaccination may decrease the chances of ever developing a hypersensitivity reaction in the first place.
"We have already had dramatic success with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and alopecia using ARBs," said Dr. David Moskowitz, GenoMed's CEO. Troops with pneumonia symptoms could safely be given an ARB at the same time as antibiotics, so they'd be covered both ways. We're eager to collaborate with military and civilian physicians to prove this treatment approach will work."
Moskowitz continued, "If we're right, this approach could make all vaccinations safer, since their main risk is allergic reactions. It also could help treatment of allergic lung diseases."
Source: GenoMed, Inc.