A pill to ban the flu as scientists invent a medicine that mimics the immune system



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The hope of a new pill to treat the flu: scientists discover that a drug designed to treat several strains of the virus protects mice from a deadly infection

  • The Dutch pharmaceutical company Janssen develops a drug to fight against several strains
  • He says it works by linking to parts of the virus that do not mutate as often
  • The pill could be cheaper and easier to use than existing antibody injections

Sam Blanchard Health Journalist for Mailonline

A pill to fight the flu could be closer than expected when scientists revealed that they were developing a medicine mimicking the immune system.

The drug could be a promising way to heal because it can work against different strains of the virus and is inexpensive to manufacture, experts say.

It works by attaching itself to the flu virus to prevent it from attacking the body's cells and triggering the disease.

The developers of the drug say they have already successfully found that it "neutralized" influenza infections in laboratory tests and even mice protected them against usually deadly doses of the virus.

The Dutch pharmaceutical company Janssen is developing a drug that attaches to the parts of the viruses that hardly change when the flu is transformed into different strains (stock image of influenza viruses)

The Dutch pharmaceutical company Janssen is developing a drug that attaches to the parts of the viruses that hardly change when the flu is transformed into different strains (stock image of influenza viruses)

The Dutch pharmaceutical company Janssen is developing a drug that attaches to the parts of the viruses that hardly change when the flu is transformed into different strains (stock image of influenza viruses)

Scientists from the Janssen pharmaceutical company in the Netherlands are developing the drug, which currently only appears as JNJ4796.

When they tested the drug on mice and gave the animals a 25-fold higher rate of influenza than they would normally kill, they survived, the New Scientist reported.

JNJ is a drug that mimics antibodies – proteins in the blood that attach to invading viruses and destroy them.

The body naturally produces antibodies when it is exposed to an infection, but it can take days and not happen fast enough to prevent someone from getting sick.

By putting this new drug into a pill, doctors could produce an antibody effect when a diagnosis is made, which could be fast enough to prevent the disease from settling.

& # 39;[This] promises to be a therapeutic option urgently sought, offering a complement [treatment] existing antivirals, "the researchers wrote in the journal Science.

It is already possible to fight against viral infections by injecting antibodies, but their manufacture can be expensive and usually does not work with more than one strain of infection.

This means that new batches must be created whenever a virus changes, which, when it comes to influenza, tends to occur every year.

But JNJ developers say it targets a part of the flu virus that does not vary much from one strain to another, which means it could be an all-in-one pill able to fight different types.

And the new technique could pave the way for the development of other antiviral drugs in the future, eliminating the need to recreate expensive antibodies and solving the problem of strain evolution.

Janssen now plans to continue testing his drug and determine if it is safe for humans.

SCIENTISTS "A DEADLY BIRD FLU ENGINEERING TO INFECT HUMAN & # 39;

The US government has been scorned for lifting its ban on experiments to develop a deadly influenza virus that can infect humans.

Virus research will soon be allowed, although experts have warned that people could die if pathogens leave laboratories.

Scientists say they want to study the virus "to protect human health" in order to learn more about this virus and be better prepared for a pandemic.

But Professor Steven Salzberg, an expert in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, said he did not understand why the US National Institutes of Health, which allowed "dangerous" research, allow it.

"I've already said it more than once," he wrote in a Forbes magazine column.

"Generating a more virulent flu for the flu is a terrible idea … This research could potentially cause millions of deaths."

Professor Salzberg said two scientists have spent years trying to turn the bird flu virus into a human virus.

But the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US government's medical research agency, suspended research in 2014 due to security concerns.

Despite a letter signed by hundreds of scientists around the world, the NIH lifted the ban and will allow Ron Fouchier and Yoshihiro Kawaoka to continue their experiment.

The Science magazine reported last month that a board of directors had decided to let the research continue but would not publicly disclose the details of its analysis.

As a result, the government will consider new funding applications for research in this specific area of ​​virology.

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