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New flu med can destroy influenza virus in one day

Published on 13/02/18 at 08:35am

Researchers in Japan have achieved a notable success in a Phase 3 clinical trial to determine whether a new vaccine could be more effective than current treatments options.

Developed by Shionongi and Roche, the new drug, Baloxavir, was found to be able to stop the spread of the virus within 24 hours of a patient taking the pill and only requires a single dose to be effective.

In a Phase 3 study produced in October, the treatment was able to alleviate the symptoms of influenza from a median time of 53.7 hours compared with placebo treatment of 80.2 hours.

In examination of the duration of time before the cessation of viral ‘shedding’ (the spreading of the virus),  the study revealed that it took just 24 hours in patients treated with the drug against 96 hours for placebo receivers.

Shionongi has already applied to Japan for marketing approval in the country, while Roche could soon approach the US and Europe later this year. This means the treatment could be available by the end of the year, though it is unlikely that it will be offered beyond a case-by-case basis – as flu stocks are usually bought up well in advanced of the flu season.

The vaccine works by blocking an enzyme that allows the influenza virus to incubate and replicate inside human cells before moving onto other cells to repeats the process.

By comparison, Roche’s Tamiflu, a blockbuster vaccine, works by stopping the influenza viruses’ escape from the cells – the advantage to Baloxavir is that it effectively stops the virus from being able to replicate at all.

“We are very excited that a single one-time oral dose of S-033188 demonstrated this rapid viral load reduction and reduced duration of virus shedding, compared with oseltamivir,” said Dr. Tsutae Den Nagata, Chief Medical Officer. “Also, we believe this drug will be able to address potential public health concerns, for example, pandemic influenza caused by avian influenza viruses such as A/H7N9.”

Ben Hargreaves

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