'Super-flu' outbreak highlights need for new drugs

Researchers are scrambling to get a better fix on a new variety of drug-resistant super flu. Healthcare workers in the U.S. and the Netherlands say the H1N1 'A' virus is loaded with a genetic variant that is resistant to Tamiflu, a first-line therapy used to protect the most vulnerable patients. And they are calling for new drugs and tests to combat the virus.

Research teams on two continents report the rapid spread of the virus with the gene mutation labelled H274Y. The Dutch team noted that four people were evidently infected by the virus in the hospital and two died from it.

"The study confirmed that circulating H274Y-mutated A (H1N1) viruses can retain significant pathogenicity and lethality, as shown in these elderly or immunocompromised patients, underlining the urgency for the introduction of new and effective antiviral agents and therapeutic strategies," the Dutch team reported.

The U.S. team, meanwhile, says that 98.5 percent of the H1N1 A viruses tested in the U.S. contained drug-resistant strains. "The emergency of oseltamivir resistance has highlighted the need for the development of new antiviral drugs and rapid diagnostic tests that determine viral subtype or resistance, as well as improved representativeness and timeliness of national influenza surveillance for antiviral resistance."

- read the report from the Belfast Telegraph