There is a new flu treatment in town and it may prove the end of the virus. The groundbreaking new drug has been found to be more effective at treating all influenza virus strains tested including the swine flu.
It is currently being developed by a team at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University. The treatment works by blocking RNA polymerase, the enzyme responsible for replicating the genome of the influenza virus.
This enzyme causes mutations in the viral genome but it is also where the key to the treatment lies. If enough mutations can occur, the genome then becomes nonfunctional stopping the virus from replicating.
“The compound is highly efficacious against influenza,” Dr. Richard Plemper, senior author of the study and a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences told The Independent.
“It’s orally available, it’s broad spectrum against all influenza virus strains tested, and most important it establishes a high barrier against viral escape from inhibition.”
Influenza is not a virus to be taken lightly. Every year it is responsible for thousands of deaths, 30,000 to 80,000 in the U.S. and about 10,000 in the U.K.
Ineffective treatment options
Meanwhile, both preventative and treatment options are few and ineffective. The vaccine is only moderately effective and antivirals are increasingly threatened by constantly emerging viral resistance.
However, the new drug has been found to efficiently inhibit replication of all of influenza's seasonal and pandemic virus strains. The tests were done on ferrets, the most informative animal model for human influenza disease.
“We have not identified specific resistance mutations yet and are confident to say that the genetic barrier against viral resistance is high," noted Plemper.
“We believe that this compound has high clinical potential as a next-generation influenza drug that combines key antiviral features.”