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Protein shows promise against bird flu in animals

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Apr 27 (Reuters) A novel ''sialidase fusion'' protein effectively prevents and treats human and bird flu infection in animals, researchers report. The protein, known as DAS181, works by removing flu receptors found in the lungs.

''DAS181 represents a 'first-In-class' potential medicine for flu,'' Dr Mang Yu from NexBio, Inc, San Diego, California told Reuters Health.

''Investigations of DAS181 against the deadly (bird flu virus) in both tissue cultures as well as in animals are on-going, and the results so far are very encouraging,'' Yu added. However, ''although promising, the safety and efficacy of DAS181 still need to be proven in humans by clinical trials.'' In the new study, DAS181 demonstrated potent antiviral activity against a panel of laboratory flu strains as well as those found in the community, the team reports in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Moreover, giving DAS181 up to 24 hours before exposure to the viruses protected cells from infection.

Similarly, treatment of mice with DAS181 prior to viral exposure significantly improved survival and lung function, the researchers found. Alternatively, giving the protein after virus exposure still prevented death and reduced lung disease.

DAS181 was also effective in a ferret model, which is thought to closely mimic human influenza, the investigators say.

''Preliminary data show that DAS181 is equally efficacious against parainfluenza virus, which is the cause of one of the three most severe respiratory infectious diseases in humans,'' Yu commented.

Human trials of DAS181 are expected to begin later this year, Yu said.


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