Experimental chemical nucleozin cripples bird and flu viruses

A team of researchers in Hong Kong says they have discovered a new chemical which can kill bird and flu viruses. And this new antiviral, nucleozin, will now be tested as a weapon to help patients who prove resistant to Tamiflu.

The drug targets a protein which can cripple the virus, preventing it from replicating or penetrating human cells, according to the study in Nature Biotechnology. And the researchers say that nucleozin worked well in mice.

"We now have brand new weapons to combat influenza virus resistant to (antiviral drugs such as) oseltamivir and zanamivir," says Richard Yao, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong. "Nucleozin is highly potent in cell culture and also in mice infected with the highly pathogenic influenza virus H5N1. Scientists could now use nucleoprotein as a target to develop antiviral therapeutics for the treatment of influenza infection."

"Tamiflu is the market leader, but the big problem is that it doesn't always work. We are still waiting to find out how it worked during the swine flu epidemic," said Aberdeen University Professor Professor Hugh Pennington. "Tamiflu is good, but it's far from perfect--a lot of people died. If we could come up with a more powerful drug than Tamiflu, that would be very good."

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- here's the story from The Scotsman