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Mount Sinai researchers say new strain of bird flu packs a punch even after becoming drug-resistant
Date:12/11/2013

ugh H7N9 appears to have a limited ability to spread readily from human to human, transmissibility in animal models was comparable between drug-susceptible and drug-resistant strains. "Transmission was inefficient for both of the H7N9 viruses that we tested in our experiments," said Dr. Bouvier. "But surprisingly, transmission of the drug-resistant virus was no less efficient than that of the drug-sensitive version."

"Many of the people infected with H7N9 during the outbreak in China were elderly or had other conditions that predisposed them to severe influenza illness," observed Dr. Bouvier. "Nevertheless, our study suggests that flu viruses can indeed develop drug-resistant mutations without suffering a penalty in terms of their own fitness."

Older antiviral drugs such as amantadine are no longer effective in treating most strains of the flu that infect humans. Newer antiviral drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors block an enzyme that helps the virus replicate. These drugs include Tamiflu, a pill, and Relenza (zanamivir), a powder that is inhaled. Both medications have drawbacks: flu viruses can develop resistance to the medications in people who take them, and, in many parts of the world, neither drug is available in an intravenous form to treat those with severe infections.

"Our study underscores the need to develop a bigger arsenal of antiviral drugs and vaccines, which will allow us to outsmart the influenza virus," said Dr. Bouvier. "Researchers at Mount Sinai are actively engaged in identifying new targets for drug therapy and are working to develop a universal vaccine that will prevent multiple strains of influenza."


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Contact: Sid Dinsay
sid.dinsay@mountsinai.org
212-241-9200
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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