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New weapon in ongoing flu fight


Scientists have identified a “cure-all” substance capable of stopping the replication of a range of seasonal flu viruses.

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers from Hong Kong and Canada said nucleozin – a compound selected from a library of more than 50,000 – was effective against H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1 in both cell cultures and mice.

The drug works by attacking nucleoproteins, which control how the organism replicates.

Finding new flu drugs is essential as viruses mutate and are adept at evading the limited array of antivirals. Nearly all of the seasonal H1N1 viruses circulating in the United States in the 2008-2009 flu season were resistant to Roche AG and Gilead Sciences’ Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir, said the paper.

The H5N1, although mainly a disease in birds, has a mortality rate of 60 percent on the rare occasions when it infects people. It was first discovered in people in 1997.

Copyright Press Association 2010
Nature Biotechnology

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