Bone dis­ease medicine might beat killer viruses

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

HONG KONG: Two drugs used to treat the bone dis­ease os­teo­poro­sis may also kill flu viruses, in­clud­ing the new H1N1 swine flu and the H5N1 bird flu viruses, re­searchers in Hong Kong have found.

The two drugs are pamidronate and zole­dronate, which are mar­keted by No­var­tis un­der the brand names Are­dia and Re­clast, re­spec­tively.

In their ex­per­i­ment, the re­searchers ex­posed hu­man cells that had been in­fected with the flu viruses to the two drugs.

They ob­served that the drugs trig­gered ex­tra pro­duc­tion of a type of white blood cell called yd-T cells, which went on to kill hu­man cells that were in­fected with the flu viruses.

Flu viruses can only repli­cate in liv­ing hu­man or an­i­mal cells and killing in­fected cells would stop the viruses from repli­cat­ing, the re­searchers said.

Pro­fes­sor Lau Yu-lung at the Uni­ver­sity of Hong Kong’s pae­di­atrics and ado­les­cent medicine depart­ment de­scribed the in­fected hu­man cells as “fac­to­ries that will pro­duce viruses”.

“Th­ese drugs at­tack the viruses specif­i­cally … This ap­proach kills the fac­to­ries that are pro­duc­ing viruses.”

Ma­lik Peiris, also part of the re­search team, said the drugs could en­hance the hu­man body’s im­mune re­sponses.

That was es­pe­cially im­por­tant as flu viruses mu­tate con­stantly, which re­duces the ef­fi­cacy of vaccines, he said.

The re­searchers plan to move next into an­i­mal and then hu­man clin­i­cal test­ing. – Reuters

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