Friday, August 18, 2006

Scientists hail breakthrough in bird flu drug quest

LONDON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Scientists said on Wednesday they had made a breakthrough in the race to develop a drug for the H5N1 bird flu virus if it mutates into a form that can jump from human to human.

But they warned that it could take five years or longer to convert their discovery of a potential weak point in the N1 part of the virus into an effective drug.

So far the 238 cases of human infection have been from direct contact with infected birds, and scientists have said there is no evidence the virus is mutating towards making the leap between humans, though this could happen at any time.

Nearly 60 percent of those infected have died, and the best known drugs to tackle H5N1 infection in humans are oseltamivir known as Tamiflu and zanamivir known as Relenza, both originally developed to fight other forms of human 'flu. Now a team of scientists lead by John Skehel of London's National Institute of Medical Research say they have found a cavity in the N1 or neuraminidase part of the H5N1 virus that could be exploited as a potential weak point.

link to full article

1 comment:

Don Vanselow said...

We should always bear in mind that there is no proof that the X-ray crystal structure of a particular protein is the same as the natural structure. See my exploration of new neuraminidase structures at