Researchers from the University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
have developed a new antiviral using naturally occurring influenza
virus "protecting virus" that may defend against any influenza A virus
in any animal host.
Human influenza virus A is not only responsible for seasonal disease
in humans, it is also the cause of worldwide pandemics of which the
last three resulted in millions of deaths all over the globe.
Currently, live and killed vaccines countering specific strains of the
flu are available, however a vaccine for a new pandemic strain would
take months to develop. Also, increased resistance to antivirals
currently on the market has emphasized the need for a new effective
prophylactic and therapeutic treatment method.
The "protecting virus" contains an altered gene that makes it harmless
and prevents it from reproducing in a cell. If another influenza virus
invades the cell it still remains harmless, but rapidly reproduces and
prevents infection by literally crowding out the new influenza strain.
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