Published: Friday February 22, 2013 MYT 12:22:00 PM
Scientists develop new drug to combat flu pandemic
CANBERRA: A new drug has been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of various strains of influenza including resistant strains of the virus, Australian top science institute CSIRO said.
The breakthrough, published in Science, is the result of a global collaboration between scientists from CSIRO, University of British Columbia and University of Bath, Xinhua news agency reported.
CSIRO scientist Dr Jenny McKimm-Breschkin, a researcher that developed the first flu drug Relenza, said that understanding exactly how flu viruses become resistant to drugs has helped them to design a better flu drug.
"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," she said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said influenza kills about 500,000 people every year, with up to 2,500 of deaths occurring in Australia.
Although it is hoped the drug will be effective against future strains of the flu virus, the scientists indicate it will be seven years before it is available to the public. - Bernama