Monday, April 30, 2007

Bird flu: more drug than bug

All quiet on the eastern front. The enemy is there, but he seems to sit in his retreat area and prepare his next attack. Time for us to prepare against a bird flu pandemic in humans. Do we use this time properly?

At the moment, the situation is a paradox. As the bug is quiet and does not show up, the Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche will cut production of its antiviral drug Tamiflu. Too little bug, too much drug, Roche says. Supply exceeds demand. Read more about Tamiflu and vaccines in Revere's excellent blog Effect Measure. In his opinion we are not prepared in case of a bird flu pandemic.

On the basic research front against bird flu there has been some news recently. Chitin, the substance of insect skins and shells, has shown to be protective against the bird flu virus H5N1 when applied as a nasal spray in mice. Of course there is a long road from mice to men, but at least there is some hope besides Tamiflu and weak vaccines. - (Picture by CookieM @ Flickr)

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