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by Robert MacKay, Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | Categories: Influenza

A new study has highlighted the possibility of battling future pandemic flu viruses through gene therapy. The study, published in Science Transnational Medicine, has provided an insight into how mice and ferrets respond to pandemic viruses after having been treated.

The treatment consisted of an intranasal delivery of a fluid containing a gene that replicates an antibody proven to be effective against the strains of lethal flu viruses. The strains that were used in the experiment were two from the H1N1 virus and three from the H5N1 virus. The two viruses have caused pandemic flus in the past, including the most severe human outbreak in 1918. They were delivered in median lethal dose for mice and in lethal dose for ferrets.

The result was that the animals left untreated had to be put down as the viruses started replicating, while the mice and ferrets that were treated with this technique before having been exposed to the virus, attained full protection.

This technique might one day be very useful for humans, as it provides an alternative to drugs. However, it is important to bear in mind that this applies only as a treatment for strains of flu for which an antibody is exists. Also, further studies are necessary to establish whether humans will react in similar ways to this treatment technique. More information can be found at this site.

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