USU Scientists Testing Compound for Treatment of Bird Flu

USU Scientists Testing Compound for Treatment of Bird Flu

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Ed Yeates ReportingAn anti-viral compound tested several years ago is back in the lab as a possible treatment for an avian flu pandemic, should it happen.

White lab mice at Utah State University are being injected with an avian flu virus, similar to the one now threatening a possible pandemic. A pulsocks that measures red blood cell concentration can tell just how sick the animal really is. It's non-invasive, painless, allowing researchers to inject an anti-viral compound to see if it makes the mice well again.

Dr. Robert Sidwell, USU Institute for Anti-Viral Research: "We're feeling the pressure. We get many calls from our project officers. They want a rundown of exactly what experiments are on, what are planned, what kind of results we're getting."

So far results look promising. They're using a compound called peramivir. It was shelved years ago because when given orally it didn't work too well. But now, when injected...

Dr. Sidwell: "We can give that injection, even rather late in the infection, and still protect almost 100 percent of the animals"

Within the next six months, the labs at USU will be brought up to a bio free level safety standard, which means instead of just surrogate viruses, they'll be testing the real McCoy. These higher, totally sealed labs, will have their own air exchange and showers. People working inside will wear respirators.

If these mice recover as well after being infected with the actual threatening virus, peramivir could go into human clinical trials, under the FDA's fast track program.

Doctor Robert Sidwell says when USU's new high level lab is complete, it will be one of just two or three in the country testing new viral strains.

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