Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Constant Gardeners

Just when it seemed the Bird Flu PR campaign was loosing steam, a bunch of interesting stories pop up.

Black Box Diagnosis
"An American research company says it's developed a new device that can quickly detect more than 90 different viruses.

These are said to include several strains of the deadly form of bird flu.

The Californina-based company Ibis Biosciences says it worked with U.S. military researchers to fine-tune the mass spectrometer device and test it against a range of flu viruses.

Currently when testing people for bird flu, the World Health Organization uses specialized labs that can spend weeks analysing samples."

Shades of the Constant Gardener
"Baxter to Run Clinical Trial of Bird Flu Vaccine on Indonesians
The health minister in Indonesia says Deerfield, Illinois based Baxter Healthcare will carry out clinical trials of a bird flu vaccine on Indonesians this July."

Human Antibody Treatment "fast tracked"
"Vaccines are also useless to a patient once the disease has struck.

Antibodies, however, work immediately, and are relatively easy to manufacture on an industrial scale. But the protection is only likely to last a few months, he explained.

This could still be critical in saving the lives of those infected, who typically seek medical help only a couple of days after flu-like symptoms appear.

Antibody treatment could also immunize frontline nurses and doctors during a possible pandemic.

Because it is not possible to conduct regular clinical trials due to the lack of cases, regulators in the United States and Europe have authorized a "fast track" approval process for an antibody-based drug, Lanzavecchia said.

If a treatment shows the same results in two animal models, including one on primates, and then passes a safety analysis, it could then go to market. This process typically takes between three and four years, he said.

The research has been funded by Britain's Wellcome Trust, the second largest medical research charity in the world, as well as the US National Institute for Health and the Swiss National Science Foundation."

Intravenous "anti-viral drug" Efficacious
""In a pandemic, having an oral treatment may not be enough because intravenous treatment is more efficacious," Chui said.

"Having the drug injected means it goes straight to the bloodstream ... so if you administer at the 48th hour, the body can still benefit. But an oral dose will take time to get into the blood - there will be a time lag," Chui explained.

The development of peramivir may be an answer to experts who want to have several antivirals to choose from in fighting all types of flu because the viruses mutate quickly."


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