Osteoporosis drug also effective against flu: Study
Last Updated: Friday, August 14, 2009, 00:00

Hong Kong: A drug used in treating osteoporosis may also work in fighting a variety of influenza A viruses, including the deadly strain of bird flu and the new swine flu, according to a medical study released here today. The Hong Kong University study found that the drug phosphoantigen can "selectively activate and expand a subset of white blood cells," which would block the replication of a number of flu viruses by killing the virus-infected host cells.

"Flu viruses may mutate in times and render the antiviral drugs specifically targeting them useless," pediatrics and adolescent medicine professor Lau Yu-lung said. "The advantage of using phosphoantigen is that it would attack the cells hijacked for virus replication and greatly reduce the replicated number of viruses," Lau was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.

The study, also published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, found that flu viruses are unlikely to be able to mutate to escape the action of the activated cells, which are part of the body``s natural immune responses. He said the treatment, which is due for human testing in two to three years, would in principle work against the new influenza H1N1 virus that has killed more than 1,400 people worldwide since its emergence months ago.

Hong Kong has so far recorded 6,417 cases of swine flu infection with four deaths.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, August 14, 2009, 00:00

comments powered by Disqus