This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
is increasing that common influenza viruses are becoming resistant to the main
drug used to treat them. The drug is oseltamivir, also known as Tamiflu.
The most common seasonal flu virus found
in the United States this year is type A(H1N1). During the last flu season, twelve
percent of H1N1 viruses tested in the United States were resistant to Tamiflu. This
year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say
resistance is close to one hundred percent. Still, they say early reports show
that flu activity has been low so far this year.
research team is reporting its findings in the Journal of the American Medical
Association. Alicia Fry led the team. Doctor Fry says it is better to prevent
the flu than to have to treat it. And the best form of prevention, she says, is
getting vaccinated each year against influenza.
change, or mutate, so flu vaccines must be reformulated each year to target the
most common threats.
But last week, two teams working independently reported
a discovery that could help lead to a universal flu vaccine. The hope is to
develop a vaccine that could give lifelong protection against a majority of flu
viruses, including bird flu.
The scientists identified a protein that
inactivates the flu virus before it can mutate.
team used an antibody found in blood donated by an individual. Scientist
Ian Wilson at the Scripps Research Institute in California says the antibodies
proved highly effective in laboratory mice exposed to deadly levels of virus.
He says they gave complete protection if administered immediately and up to
fifty percent protection if administered up to five days later.
The researchers say many, if not all,
people likely have these antibodies but do not always produce or use them efficiently.
study is in the journal Science.
The findings appeared just days after another
team reported its findings in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular
Biology. That team used almost the same methods but worked with engineered
Wayne Marasco of the
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts was the lead author of that study.
He says identifying human antibodies that will stop the ability of the virus to
reinvent itself is the first step. Next comes using them to develop drugs to
fight and treat influenza. And that, he says, could require at least three more
years of research to reach the point of testing in people.
that’s the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I’m Mario