Tuesday, Sep. 4, 2007
However far off a cure may be for Alzheimer’s disease, Baxter International Inc.’s announcement last week that a small-scale study showed progress in improving memory function in elderly patients.
Just as momentum built in the 1990s in the fight against AIDS, researchers have identified several potential avenues to follow in the search to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
There is neither a cure nor is there an approved treatment that will change the course of the disease; there are only some pills that slow the worsening of symptoms for about half of those who take them, experts say.
It is hoped the use of Baxter’s drug Gammagard and other drugs that work similarly to bolster immune systems would slow or even stop Alzheimer’s.
The 24-patient study represents a preliminary step forward, and a small one since hundreds of patients can be needed for some drugs to win approval. But researchers believe Baxter’s drug has an advantage in that it already is established as safe. It has been used for years to treat patients with immune disorders.
“This is really the beginning of a new era,” said Dr. David Bennett, professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
The idea behind the Baxter drug is the body’s own immune system potentially can clear the brain of a protein fragment known as beta-amyloid is deemed a key player in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 5 million Americans, and the number is rapidly rising.
Specific results of Baxter’s 24-patient trial were not released. They are expected to be published in medical journals, perhaps by the end of the year.
Friday, Aug. 31, 2007
A new study has it that a synthetic molecule derived from the egg cells of frogs, could be of potential benefit in treating brain tumours, the BBC reported on Sunday.
Amphinase is a version of a molecule isolated from the egg cells of the Northern Leopard frog (Rana pipiens).
UK and US scientists found it recognises the sugary coating found on a tumour cell, and latches on to it before invading and killing it. The Journal of Molecular Biology paper suggests the molecule could potentially treat many cancers.
However, the researchers, from the University of Bath and the Alfacell Corporation, believe it shows the greatest potential in treating brain tumours, for which complex surgery and chemotherapy are the only current treatments. Researcher Professor Ravi Acharya said: “This is a very exciting molecule. It is rather like Mother Nature’s very own magic bullet for recognising and destroying cancer cells. It is highly specific at hunting and destroying tumour cells, is easily synthesised in the laboratory and offers great hope as a therapeutic treatment of the future.”
Amphinase is a version of a ribonuclease enzyme, which is found in all organisms and plays a role in mopping up genetic material called RNA.
In mammals the enzyme is kept in close check, so that it does not cause damage. But because Amphinase comes from an amphibian, and not a mammal, it is able to evade the usual defences of cancer cells, and attack them. It will have no effect on other cells because it is only capable of recognising and binding to the sugar coating of tumour cells.
However, it is still in the early stages of development, and a treatment is not likely for several years.
Amphinase is the second anti-tumour ribonuclease to be isolated by Alfacell Corporation from Rana pipiens egg cells.
The other, ranpirnase, is in late-stage clinical trials as a treatment for unresectable malignant mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of lung cancer. It is also being assessed as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer and other solid tumours.
Emma Knight, science information manager at Cancer Research United Kingdom, said: “Cancer is such a complicated
disease that researchers need to explore all potential avenues. A similar drug to Amphinase is currently being tested against cancer in human clinical trials. But it’s far too early to comment on whether Amphinase could ever be helpful for people with cancer.”
Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
He survived against all the odds; now Peng Shulin has astounded doctors by learning to walk again.
When his body was cut in two by a lorry in 1995, it was little short of a medical miracle that he lived.
It took a team of more than 20 doctors to save his life.
Skin was grafted from his head to seal his torso – but the legless Mr Peng was left only 78cm (2ft 6in) tall.
Bedridden for years, doctors in China had little hope that he would ever be able to live anything like a normal life again.
But recently, he began exercising his arms, building up the strength to carry out everyday chores such as washing his face and brushing his teeth.
Doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Centre in Beijing found out about Mr Peng’s plight late last year and devised a plan to get him up walking again.
They came up with an ingenious way to allow him to walk on his own, creating a sophisticated egg cup-like casing to hold his body with two bionic legs attached to it.
He has been taking his first steps around the centre with the aid of his specially adapted legs and a resized walking frame.
Mr Peng, who has to learn how to walk again, is said to be delighted with the device.
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007
Wine could make a good antibacterial mouth wash to fight tooth decay and a sore throat, according to Italian researchers.
Both red and white wine may have previously unrecognised health benefits at the very start of their journey into the body, according to a study that confirms something that has been known since antiquity, when wine was used to treat wounds.
Prof Gabriella Gazzani and colleagues at the University of Pavia in Italy point out in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that previous studies suggested that moderate wine consumption has health benefits after reaching the stomach and digestion – in protecting against heart disease and cancer. But relatively little has been done to study its antibacterial activity, which was exploited in ancient times, and noone had studied whether wine could combat harmful oral bacteria.
The team showed that red and white wine were effective in inhibiting the growth of several strains of streptococci bacteria that are involved in tooth decay, and some cases of sore throat.
The compounds responsible for the antimicrobial activity were wine acids, notably succinic, malic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and acetic acids. “Overall, our findings seem to indicate that wine can act as an effective antimicrobial agent against the tested pathogenic oral streptococci and might be active in caries and upper respiratory tract pathologies prevention,” the study states.
“Red wine resulted to be more active as an antibacterial agent then white wine”, said Prof Gazzani, who is now investigating about the mechanisms by which wine can interfere with tooth decay and the possibility it offers advantages over standard mouthwashes.
Monday, Aug. 20, 2007
Surgery can be nerve wracking especially for young kids.
A hospital on Oahu has found a way to cure their anxiety and it’s not a drug. It’s not a pill, it’s not an injection. It’s a mini hummer.
Patients got to test drive the battery operated cars for the first time Thursday. Staff transformed the pediatric floor into a race track for them.
From here on out, kids who are admitted to Kapiolani Medical Center can drive themselves to their hospital room top surgery or to recovery. The whole point of this is to fuel their spirits and put brakes on any stress they are suffering during their medical treatment.
“It makes me forget that I am doing one of the treatments and the chemo,” said Kassian Neal, a bone cancer patient.
Neal’s grandfather Phillip Neal said “You see all the childrens’ face light up, I know that other boy that rode with him, he did not like this hospital when he first came he looks real good now.”
This is all part of hummers program called Creative Kids. A spokesperson says, Hawaii is only the second state to join this program.
Pluegger Auto Group, a local hummer dealership donated the little hummers. The president of Pflueger Auto Group says they’re priceless.
Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007
At 51, Steve Cornell now prefers golf to track. He’ll be competing in a national tournament in Chicago next weekend. He’ll have to fit the tournament in between his jobs as a warehouse manager and an assistant lacrosse coach.
However, his hectic schedule won’t likely be the biggest challenge he faces.
Rather it’s this: Cornell stands on one leg and presses down and forward hard. The leg of titanium, aluminum and graphite collapses and Cornell has to grab onto a padded examination table in the Cummings Center offices of Cornell Orthotics & Prosthetics to keep from tumbling onto his face.
And that’s the threat Cornell faces — every step of his life.
Teresa Arnold, 45, climbs a set of three steps in the Cornell (no relation to Steve) offices. She uses a cane. She takes each step, one at a time. Step. Pause. Step. She grasps the rail, as if half expecting her prosthetic leg to collapse — as Cornell’s leg had done — sending her crumpling down the stairs in a heap.
Arnold, too, faces the threat — every step of her life.
Then a technician from Otto Bock, a German maker of prosthetic limbs, pulls out a new leg that would eliminate that threat permanently for both Cornell and Arnold.
Unfortunately, the new leg costs about $20,000 more than the old one, anywhere from $33,000 to $45,000, depending on individual needs.
The cost creates a barrier between patient need and insurance coverage.
The smart leg, equipped with computer sensors in the thigh and ankle, heel and toe, senses the terrain and automatically adjusts the hydraulic knee, controlling the fluid entering the mechanical joint, so it’s impossible to overload and can’t collapse.
Cornell tried. And tried. And tried. Using the same technique he used on his purely mechanical leg. Every time he lunged for the table. Every time the leg held and the move was unnecessary.
Trusting the computerized leg was also an issue for Arnold. Walking the length of an exercise room, between two parallel bars, she tentatively stepped, leaning on her cane, half expecting the leg to fold or be as inflexible as her old, mechanical leg.
Arnold lost her natural leg to a vascular birth defect that stills causes swelling in her thigh and saps some of the strength she needs to engage the mechanical hydraulic knee.
Cornell, who lost his natural leg at 12 while trying to hop a freight train, has no such issue.
“I’m hoping the new leg will have an ease of flexibility and need less force,” said Arnold. “That would be helpful. It would be less exhausting to use.”
Arnold didn’t quite break into a trot when fitted with the new leg. She wanted to use the cane, but there were moments, two or three steps in a row as she paced up and down the room’s length, when she forgot and the computerized knee flexed and Arnold almost lost her limp.
“The more she would use it the more she would learn to trust it, the less energy she would expend,” said Keith D. Cornell, owner of Cornell Orthotics & Prosthetics, who fits and constructs prosthetics from his office/factory. “I was hoping she could put the cane down, but she would need more time to do that. She got a taste of it and saw it’s possible to walk much better.”
For Arnold, the leg met her basic hopes.
“It’s exciting to have a component that will stand up and not use up so much physical effort with every step I take,” she said.
For Keith Cornell it’s such glimpses that he hopes will capture the medical community’s attention and, just as importantly, insurance companies who would pay for the computerized leg.
The Otto Bock, C-leg, so named for the computer language that drives it, uses technology that’s about 5 years old.
Newer Bluetooth computer technology makes it easier to program the C-leg. A few years ago, Jeff Honma, a clinical specialist with Otto Bock, would have had to connect his laptop to the C-leg with multiple wires in order to program the leg’s computer chips to adjust for the user’s individual gait. Now he now simply taps on a wireless keyboard.
“It’s a lot less cumbersome and faster,” said Honma.
Still, the basic technology remains the same.
“It’s proven technology, but still not widely available to patients. It’s not experimental,” said Keith Cornell who can see a way to improve his patients’ lives, but often can’t get past the glass wall of insurance coverage.
“Companies hesitate to cover newer prostheses because of cost or because medical necessity,” said Keith Cornell. “Both arguments are weak. Our field is a very small field and it is behind where it should be for getting the high-quality medical studies to show the efficacy of these devices. We are making progress.”
Hence the demonstrations in his office.
Just last year, Massachusetts passed a law that required prostheses to be covered at the same rate as all other medical expenses. So the policy coverage is uniform. Prior to the law, insurance companies covered prostheses at a lower rate when compared to other medical needs.
Still, the insurance companies decide what is medically necessary, deciding whether the newer technology makes enough of an improvement in patients’ lives to deserve coverage.
“It’s important to increase awareness,” said Kevin Cornell. “To let people know that these wonderful devices are out there and there’s still a lack of understanding of how they work. The demonstration showcases this technology and shows it’s tried and true and works very well.”
Steve Cornell needs no further convincing.
After taking the C-leg for a trial run —almost literally — around the Cummings Center grounds, he returned with an ear-to-ear grin.
Normally, he walks looking down at the ground to make sure his leg strikes properly and avoids uneven ground, potholes and other obstacles the would cause the knee to buckle and pitch him to the ground.
“I feel like a little kid in a toy store,” said Steve Cornell. “Trusting the knee not to buckle and then just walking step to step is so different. I can keep my eyes forward now and see the world around me.”
And with his insurance company picking up 80 percent of the cost, Steve Cornell figures he can afford the new leg.
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007
Reality can be stranger than the fiction of Fantastic Voyage. Scientists at the Technion University have developed a miniature robot that can move within the bloodstream.
The breakthrough was made in partnership with a researcher from the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel.
Researchers the world wide have been trying to develop miniature, remote-controlled robots for minimally invasive medical treatments within the body.
“For the first time a miniature robot has been planned and constructed, that has the unique ability to crawl within the human body’s veins and arteries,” said Dr. Nir Shvalb of the College of Judea and Samaria yesterday.
“The robot will be able to crawl against the bloodstream with a force typical of blood vessels within the body without any problem, which has not been possible before.”
Oded Salomon, researcher at the medical robotics lab in the Technion’s engineering faculty, added that the miniaturization achievement is unprecedented, as is the ability to control the robot’s activity for unlimited periods of time, for any medical procedure.
For comparison, the diameter of a similar robot which researchers at Kyoto University developed is one centimeter. The Israeli robot’s diameter is one millimeter.
The new robot consists of a hub from which tiny arms stretch out, allowing the robot to strongly grip the vessel walls. The operators can manipulate the robot to move in increments, and its special structure allows it to crawl within a variety of vessels with differing diameters.
Blood vessels differ from each other in diameter, making it extremely important for the robot to possess the ability to be able to adjust accordingly.
Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
A pioneering unmanned aircraft has been unveiled as the latest addition to a UK fire brigade’s resources.
The state-of-the-art unmanned flying craft is the first in the UK.
The new aerial technology has been named the Incident Support Imaging System, or ISIS. ISIS is a miniature remote-controlled helicopter fitted with video and stills cameras, which can hover above fire incidents and provide crews with live images.
It will be used to provide live video footage from above an incident scene, gathering vital information to aid the emergency response.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Vij Randeniya said: “This is fantastic new technology that will provide real benefits when we are tackling a range of emergency situations.
“Being able to look down on the scene will allow us to get a full picture of the incident and the surrounding environment, which will aid incident commanders to make vital, potentially life-saving decisions.”
The four-rotor craft, which weighs just 900g (2lb), can take off and land vertically, and can be fitted with daylight or low-light digital camera.
Could it be a marvelous breakthrough, or just hot air? Chinese scientists claim to have discovered a new clean energy source – simply by using dry air.
The discovery could have positive implications for parts of northern and western China, which have dry climate conditions, according to scientists at Tsinghua University.
“The breakthrough makes it possible to use dry air, instead of electricity, to cool down the water and the indoor air, and be applied at least to power large-scale air-conditioning equipment in office buildings,” Jiang Yi, director of the university’s architecture science department, who leads the research project, told China Daily.
For decades the world’s scientists have been eyeing the potential of turning dry air into a useable energy.
The premise sounds simple enough: dry air absorbs moisture, and in doing so causes the air’s temperature to drop.
Jiang said he was confidant the energy could be widely applied, and that his team at Tsinghua were cooperating with a company in Xinjiang to produce air-powered air-conditioning equipment.
So far trials in some large buildings had been successful.
“Believe me, the air looks tranquil but it is imbalanced thermodynamically when it is dry,” said Jiang, who is also an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The process does not produce electricity, but provides a means to allow less reliance on electricity.
The technology could be compared to a solar hot water heater, whereby water is continuously heated as long as there is sunlight.
Currently the air-powered air conditioners can keep room temperature between 25 and 28 C, and scientists are still working to expand the range.
Zhang Fulin, the director of the science and technology office under the Ministry of Construction, said the breakthrough could have great implications for emission reductions.
Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007
IN a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released today said.
The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study published in Science magazine.
The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, the authors warned, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.
“A customised enzyme that effectively excises integrated HIV-1 from infected cells in vitro might one day help to eradicate (the) virus from AIDS patients,” Alan Engelman, of Harvard University’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, wrote in an article accompanying the study.
Current treatments focus on suppressing the HIV virus in order to delay the onset of AIDS and dramatically extend the life of infected patients.
What makes HIV so deadly, however, is its ability to insert itself into the body’s cells and force those cells to produce new infection.
“Consequently the virus becomes inextricably linked to the host, making it virtually impossible to ‘cure’ AIDS patients of their HIV-1 infection,” Mr Engelman explained.
That could change if the enzyme developed by a group of German scientists can be made safe to use on people.
That enzyme was able to eliminate the HIV virus from infected human cells in about three months in the laboratory.
The researchers engineered an enzyme called Tre which removes the virus from the genome of infected cells by recognising and then recombining the structure of the virus’s DNA.
This ability to recognise HIV’s DNA might one day help overcome one of the biggest obstacles to finding a cure: the ability of the HIV virus to avoid detection by reverting to a resting state within infected cells which then cease to produce the virus for months or even years.
“Numerous attempts have been made to activate these cells, with the hope that such strategies would sensitise the accompanying viruses to antiviral drugs, leading to virus eradication,” Mr Engelman wrote.
“Advances with such approaches in patients have been slow to materialise.”
New experiments must be designed to see if the Tre enzyme can be used to recognise these dormant infected cells, he wrote.
“Although favourable results would represent perhaps only a baby step toward eventual use in patients, the discovery of the Tre recombinase proves that enzymatic removal of integrated HIV-1 from human chromosomes is a current-day reality,” he said.
The researchers who developed the enzyme were optimistic about their ability to design additional enzymes which would target other parts of the virus’s DNA.
However they warned that there were significant barriers to overcome before the enzyme could be used to help cure patients.
“The most important, and likely most difficult, among these is that the enzyme would need efficient and safe means of delivery and would have to be able to function without adverse side effects,” wrote lead author Indrani Sarkar of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden.
“Nevertheless the results we present offer an early proof of principal for this type of approach, which we speculate might form a useful basis for the development of future HIV therapies,” Sarkar concluded.
Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2007
A team of researchers at Rutgers University, New Jersey have found a new cure to fighting skin cancer by the unique combination of exercise and caffeine.
The study, which has been conducted successfully on mice, suggests that the combination of coffee and exercise can increase destruction of precancerous cells that had been damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet-B radiation.
Scientists are now hoping that the new study would be successful on human beings but added that people should continue to use sunscreen.
The results, which appeared in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that exposing the mice to ultraviolet-B light causes some skin cells to become precancerous.
In a process called apoptosis, the cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct. However, not all the cells can do so thus they can become cancerous.
Though the scientists are still not very clear as to why the combination of caffeine and exercise can reduce cancer cell but they believe that mice drinking caffeine were more active, leading them to do more exercise.
Both caffeine and exercise helped eliminate damaged skin cells and the combination worked better together than individually.
However, researchers also added that there is a need for this concept of systemic caffeine to be addressed further.
Tuesday, Jul. 10, 2007
It’s a day LaKisha Joseph and Alastair Thomas have ached for since the day their 16-month-old baby Alyssa was nearly taken from them.
“She was vomiting, and we took her to the emergency room and did all kinds of tests, and still nothing,” Joseph said from a conference room at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg Monday.
“Eventually, her heart just stopped, and that’s when things just went downhill.”
For the next 52 minutes, emergency crews immediately performed CPR on Alyssa’s lifeless body.
Finally, she came back.
Doctors realized Alyssa didn’t have time to wait to for a new heart. Instead, they decided to outfit Alyssa with an experimental device called the Berlin Heart.
The Berlin Heart is manufactured in Germany, and it’s designed to help people with failed hearts survive while they wait for donors.
“For youngsters who are waiting for a pediatric heart transplant, it’s a very difficult proposition. They may have to wait a while for those heart transplants, and there’s not a whole lot that we can do to help them make it through to the time [when] the donor heart becomes available,” said Ann Miller of All Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Jeff Jacobs, Alyssa’s surgeon, describes how the Berlin Heart works.
“It pumps the blood for the ventricle, and then it’s pumped back into the heart. So it goes out of the heart, gets pumped and then goes right back into heart.”
Since the Berlin Heart hasn’t been approved by the FDA, doctors at All Children’s had to put in an application with the hospital and the Food and Drug Administration to be able to implant it.
A day later, their request was granted.
“[The FDA] understood the reason you need it so badly, so they fast-tracked it, and we got approval within 24 hours,” said Alyssa’s pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Alfred Asante-Korang.
The next step was getting in contact with Berlin Heart’s maker in Germany. The device arrived in St. Petersburg four days later, complete with its own staff.
Gary Carnes, President and CEO of All Children’s Health System, said the Berlin Heart itself cost more than $100,000.
The whole process, including the transplant operation and Alyssa’s recovery, will run well over $1 million.
Alyssa had the Berlin Heart for 75 days, until February 12, when she received a heart transplant.
Monday, she was released from All Children’s Hospital. She now heads to Tampa General Hospital for rehab.
Alyssa’s doctors expect her to able to return home to Orlando in a few weeks.
Monday, Jul. 9, 2007
A WONDER cure for killer liver disease Hepatitis C was revealed yesterday — giving hope to millions of sufferers.
Scientists made the breakthrough by combining two drugs that keep the condition under control in its early stages.
The double therapy was tested on more than 1,000 patients — and 99 per cent were free of the disease after just SIX MONTHS.
Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood and destroys the liver. It affects 200,000 in Britain — many hit by infected blood transfusions in the Eighties.
Body Shop founder Anita Roddick this year revealed she had contracted the disease in 1971 via a transfusion after giving birth. Other sufferers catch it from contaminated tattooing and piercing equipment, or drug use.
Until now the only long-term treatment has been a liver transplant.
But the researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in America said their 1,000 patients were still free of the disease, even seven years after the tests started. Study leader Professor Mitchell Shiffman said the results meant the combined drugs could be called a “cure”.
He added: “It is rare in the treatment of life-threatening viral diseases that we can tell patients they may be cured.
“Today we are able to help some patients effectively put their disease behind them.”
His team will now expand the trials on a wider range of patients.
Electrodes inserted in the brain may point the way to restoring sight lost to eye disease or trauma.
The research in monkeys is in very early stages but has shown some promise, Harvard Medical School researchers reported in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While researchers have worked on developing implants for the eye’s retina, John S. Pezaris and R. Clay Reid turned their attention to a portion of the thalamus that relays signals from the retina to the brain’s visual cortex.
They were able to get the brains of the monkeys to register a point of light by sending a signal down the electrodes – even though no actual light was visible, Pezaris said.
“We don’t know what it looked like because we can’t really ask them,” he said. “But there definitely was something.”
A single point of light may not sound like much, but Pezaris says the next step is to try to get eight points to register, which would allow the researchers to begin forming shapes such as vertical or horizontal lines.
“If that works we will try more and more and more,” he said. “At some point we hope to move into humans, and once we can do that, even on an experimental basis, the amount we will be able to learn will grow.”
That is a few years away, he said, but if all goes well it might lead to treatments for people who have lost their vision to accidents, cancer or diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
This technique hadn’t been tried because of the hard-to-reach location of the thalamus, but Pezaris said the advent of deep brain stimulation for treating Parkinson’s disease suggested that technique might be adapted.
Tuesday, Jul. 3, 2007
A new anti-viral drug to treat both bird and human flu, developed by United States-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, will be tested across Asia next month, the pharmacist involved in the trial in Hong Kong said on Monday.
In an earlier animal trial, the drug, peramivir, boosted the survival rates of mice and ferrets infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus. Some experts say it could be the next-line drug to fight all types of influenza, including H5N1.
The trial will involve people seeking treatment for seasonal influenza in Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. Half of them will be given peramivir, and the other half a conventional, orally-administered flu drug.
Peramivir is a parenteral, or intravenous, anti-viral drug.
“They (BioCryst) will compare which (drug) is better, parenteral or oral, to see which one cures faster, which (type of administration) brings viral loads down faster,” said William Chui of the University of Hong Kong’s Clinical Trials Centre.
Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu is considered the first line of defence against bird flu, although early treatment – within 48 hours of the first signs of symptoms – is pivotal.
A death rate of up to 60 percent has spurred the search for other drugs and vaccines to fight the H5N1 strain, which experts fear could cause a pandemic if it ever becomes easily transmittable among people.
“In a pandemic, having an oral treatment may not be enough because intravenous treatment is more efficacious,” said Chui.
“Having the drug injected means it goes straight to the bloodstream … so if you administer at the 48th hour, the body can still benefit, but an oral dose will take time to get into the blood. There will be a time lag,” Chui explained.
“You have to be fast if you want to curb viral replication. Once after 48 hours, the viral load will be very high, and it will be very tough (to get rid of them).”
The development of peramivir may be an answer to experts who want to have several antivirals to choose from in fighting all types of flu because the viruses mutate quickly.
“We have seen resistance against Tamiflu in Japan where doctors dispense the drug (to fight seasonal human flu) very freely. It is time to find new treatments,” Chui said.
Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline is an inhaled drug regarded as capable of treating both bird and human flu.