(ĐTĐ) - A well-established osteoporosis drug treatment could have the potential to counter a variety of influenza strains in humans - based on its performance in recent mouse trials - according to a new study published in Hong Kong on 29 June 2011.
While antiviral drugs suppress flu viruses themselves, this bone drug, pamidronate, enhances the role of specific immune cells and encourages them to strike other flu-ridden cells.
Pamidronate is sold by Novartis as ‘Aredia' as an osteoporosis treatment and it's been available to patients for more than two decades.
Details of the work carried out so far in this field appear in the current edition of the Journal of Experimental Medicine. From here on in, it's planned to put the drug through phased clinical trials with human participants involved.
Pamidronate Flu Virus Trials
Following these pamidronate flu virus trials, new market approval would, in theory, be relatively simple to obtain, since the drug's already been approved for osteoporosis patients.
According to those behind the study, the immune cells (gamma-delta T-cells) are capable of identifying which cells are infected and which are not.
"The drug activates and expands this group of T-cells, their numbers dramatically increase and they kill these virus-infected cells by secreting and injecting an enzyme", Professor Malik Peiris - one of the researchers involved - told journalists at a media event.
"This drug boosts our own immune system, so the likelihood of it triggering a mutation is lower", another representative, Professor Lau Yu-Lung, added.
Pamidronate Bone Drug
Mice were used to trial the Pamidronate bone drug and they were specially adapted for the task at hand. They didn't have their own immune systems but, rather, were given miniature-scale human immune systems and then divided into three groups.
One group was given H1N1, another, H5N1 and the last, H9N2. Within these groups, some mice were supplied with pamidronate and the remainder - acting as a control group - got nothing. Recovery was rapid for the pamidronate mice but every single one of those who didn't have the drug supplied died, just days after.