Bone disease medicine might beat killer viruses
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