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Updated: December 22, 2009 20:36 IST

New medicine fights bird flu better

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A file photo of Officals of Veterinary services showing a hen with a tag `No BIrd Flu' at the poultry farm in Kancheepuram District. Photo: M. Vedhan
THE HINDU A file photo of Officals of Veterinary services showing a hen with a tag `No BIrd Flu' at the poultry farm in Kancheepuram District. Photo: M. Vedhan

A new drug on the threshold of final testing in humans may be more potent and safer for treating the deadly bird flu than the antiviral drug Tamiflu, scientists have found.

Known as T-705, the compound even works several days after infection, according to Yoshihiro Kawaoka, University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M) Virologist and Senior Study Author.

“H5N1 virus is so pathogenic that even Tamiflu doesn’t protect all the infected animals. This compound works much better, even three days after infection,” explains Kawaoka, Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at the UW-M.

The study was conducted in mice and demonstrated that the compound was effective and safe against H5N1, the highly pathogenic bird flu virus, which some scientists fear could spark a global epidemic of deadly flu.

The compound is also effective against seasonal flu and more worrisome varieties such as the H1N1 virus, and has already been tested against circulating seasonal influenza in humans in Japan where it is on the brink of Phase-III clinical trials.

Antiviral drugs are viewed as a readily available first line of defence against pandemic flu and are especially important for protecting health workers and others during an outbreak of disease.

Vaccines, which utilise inactivated or weakened viruses to confer immunity, are the primary line of defence for influenza, but require months to formulate and mass-produce, says a UW-M release.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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