New Flu Drug Shows PromiseEditor's Choice
Main Category: Flu / Cold / SARS
Article Date: 24 Feb 2013 - 0:00 PST
New Flu Drug Shows Promise
|Patient / Public:|
A new flu drug has been developed by CSIRO scientists which could help in combating influenza pandemics, according to a report published in the journal Science.
Researchers conducted tests in laboratory models and found that the drug is extremely effective at preventing the spread of various strains of the influenza virus.
The drug prevents the virus from removing sugars which are found on the outer surface of cells. Flu viruses remove the sugars as a means of binding onto the cells and infecting them. By preventing them from doing this, the drug is successfully able to put a stop to the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization estimates that up to half a million people die because of influenza every year.
Dr Jenny McKimm-Breschkin, a CSIRO scientist who was part of the research team that developed the first flu drug called Relenza, said that it is crucial to understand how certain strains of the flu virus become resistant to drugs in order to perfect and make new and better medications.
"CSIRO researchers have shown that flu viruses continually mutate and some have become resistant to available treatments. The new drug is effective against these resistant strains. As the site where the drug binds is found in all flu strains, the new drug is expected to be effective even against future flu strains."
"The new drug is effective against these resistant strains. As the site where the drug binds is found in all flu strains, the new drug is expected to be effective even against future flu strains.
With millions of poultry currently infected with 'bird flu' globally, there are still concerns about its adaptation and potential to spread among humans, causing the next pandemic."
The findings are extremely promising, says Professor Steve Withers, from the University of British Columbia, who led the research team for the last seven years. However, he notes that it is important that further studies are carried out to determine how effective the drug is at treating an even wider range of strains.
It can sometimes take months before vaccines are available to the public when a new flu virus strain appears, even with the latest advancements in vaccine production.
Professor Steve Withers said: "This antiviral drug would play an important role as the first line of defence in modulating disease severity and in controlling a pandemic while vaccines are prepared."
The researchers believe it will take years before the drug is actually available to the public.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have long been saying that a universal flu vaccine that could provide protection from all the flu strains for decades could indeed become a reality one day.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
Science 1232552 DOI:10.1126/science.1232552
18 Jun. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256801.php>
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