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The study showed that the female sex hormone oestrogen boosts the immune system's first line of attack against bacteria and other invaders. The finding raises the possibility of using oestrogen-based drugs to shore up the male body's defences. The research focused on an enzyme called caspase-12. It raises susceptibility to infection by blocking the inflammation the body uses to fight bacteria and other unwanted bugs. Mice unable to make the enzyme were extremely resistant to infection, the researchers from McGill University in Montreal showed. They then genetically engineered the mice to make the enzyme. The males became susceptible to infection, as expected, but the females didn't. Experiments showed that the oestrogen made by the female mice kept immunity high, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports. Researcher Maya Saleh said: 'These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men.' She added that while the study was carried out on mice, the finding was likely to apply to people, raising the possibility of immunityboosting drugs. But Dr Saleh cautioned: 'A question remains. Will men be amenable to the idea of being treated with an exclusively female hormone?' Surveys have shown that up to 30 per cent of men take sick days because of colds and flu, compared with just 22 per cent of women. Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk...