Ekybion: Inhibitor of influenza or immune-response?

Contributed by Guest Blogger: H. Cushing ’14

Ekybion is a drug complex that was developed to treat inflammation in the respiratory tract caused by infectious agents. A series of experiments were implemented to test if Ekybion was capable of inhibiting the growth of influenza A/PR/8/34 H1N1 strain in vivo (mice).
The first experiment was performed in vitro. MDCK cells were treated with Ekybion 1 hour pre-infection, 1, 2, 4, or 12 hours post-infection. Samples of the different cultures were taken 24 and 48 hours after infection and the number of influenza viruses were counted using the hemagglutination assay method. The results showed that the treatment of MDCK cells (whether pre/post infection) significantly reduced viral growth for at least 48 hours and that pre-infection treatment was most efficient.
The first experiment done in vivo was testing the possible toxicity of Ekybion. They treated one of two groups of mice three times a day with Ekybion. The toxicity was determined by the mice’s weight and normalcy of lung tissue. The test was done with several different concentrations of Ekybion. The results showed that no toxicity was observed in the treated mice until 50x concentration level was reached – indicating that no toxicity would result from Ekybion use at 1x (concentration intended for medical use).
Ekybion’s inhibition of the virus in infected mice was tested at different treatment times and concentrations. Mice were weighted daily for 16 days and 2-5 mice were euthanized from each group on the second day post-infection to determine the amount of virus in lung tissue. The results showed no significant differences in weight loss and that the treatment with 1x concentration for 2 minutes was the most effective with a 46% survival rate (compared to 0% survival in the control). The lung tissues collected from the euthanized mice were used to determine cytokine levels at the site of infection. The results showed that mice treated with Ekybion had a lower cytokine quantity. This determined that Ekybion could suppress immune response as well as reduce viral growth. The question resulting from the experiments is whether or not the anti-viral benefits outweigh the immunosuppression effect of the drug.


One thought on “Ekybion: Inhibitor of influenza or immune-response?”

  1. If Ekybion was developed to treat inflammation in the respiratory tract, then it makes sense that it suppresses cytokine level, for the actual process of inflammation involves the release by cytokines. If it can also reduce viral growth, I guess that’s a bonus. But in influenza the problem may not be viral growth but overreaction of the immune system, including inflammation. So I was thinking maybe both anti-viral benefits and immunosuppression are benefits of the drug, as opposed to pros and cons of Ekybion. I know that not only cytokines but also all kinds of white blood cells damage the alveoli, but “cytokine” is a very broad term, so I wasn’t very sure about what exactly was meant by “immunosuppression effect.” I thought that this was a very interesting topic!

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