New drug may prevent death from flu virus

Toronto, June 6 (IANS) Scientists in Canada have developed a new drug that offers an unconventional approach to beat the flu virus.

The researchers who found the drug was effective in two different strains of mice and three different strains of flu believe the drug could be effective in animals other than mice, including humans.

Instead of targetting the virus that causes flu, the new drug can prevent the blood vessels from leaking fluid into the lung’s air sacs.

People who die from the flu actually die from respiratory failure, when the lung’s tiny blood vessels start leaking fluid into the lung’s air sacs.

The new drug, Vasculotide, developed by researchers at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto acts on the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels.

The drug was effective against multiple strains of influenza, including the 2009 swine flu pandemic strain.

“While this research was conducted in mice, I found the results exciting since the drug was effective in two different strains of mice and three different strains of flu,” said Warren Lee, a researcher with St. Michael’s Hospital’s Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Sciences, who tested the new drug on mice.

As the mechanism of blood vessels leaking into lungs is common throughout animals, Lee was optimistic that the drug could be effective in animals other than mice, including humans.

Without the drug, 100 percent of the mice died within one week.

With the drug, more than 80 percent survived.

The drug worked even if it was administered days after the infection began.

The drug worked alone and in combination with antivirals and it worked without compromising the body’s ability to mount an immune response to the virus.

The study appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.

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