MAR 01, 2018 10:43 PM PST

The 24 hour Flu-Killing Drug

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Influenza, mainly known as the “flu”, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. The flu virus usually flourishes during the winter season affecting many people who are not protected. Every year, there is a new virus strain and every year individuals are recommended to vaccinate themselves and their families against the newest strain. However, this flu season has been one of the worst in recent years with some cases being fatal.

As described in the video above, the severity of the flu is due to a strain associated with high hospitalizations; the H3N2 strain. According to a scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Amesh Adalja told Live Science that, "This year is particularly bad because it's dominated by the H3N2 [flu strain], which tends to be more severe and causes more severe symptoms than other strains of flu.” In fact, research published in 2016 found that over an 11-year analysis, H3N2 viruses were so severe that even vaccinations were only 33% effective in comparison to other common viral strains.

Now, a pharmaceutical company, Shinogi, in Japan has developed an experimental drug that may kill the flu virus in as little as 24 hours. It is believed that this drug is not only safe and effective but in the midst of one of the worst flu seasons of recent years, it may be the only option after vaccinations. This experimental drug, baloxavir marboxil, was shown to eradicate the flu virus in just one day making it more effective than a recent flu-killing drug oseltamivir, which can kill the flu in 72 hours.

Flickr, Sanofi Pasteur via The Scientist

Although both drugs eradicated flu symptoms, baloxavir marboxil provides a more effective relief of the influenza in a shorter period of time. Why so? Well, oseltamivir (marketed as Tamiflu) works as neuraminidase inhibitor preventing the virus from reproducing and affecting more cells.

However, with baloxavir marboxil, which is a cap-dependent endonuclease inhibitor, it initiates its biological mechanism on a different enzyme by preventing cells from being vulnerable to a virus infection. Additionally, the single-dose delivery of baloxavir marboxil is more convenient than the longer dose regimen of oseltamivir. The experimental drug is also advantageous in targeting A and B influenza types. Furthermore, studies on baloxavir marboxil demonstrated its anti-viral spectrum against not only seasonal influenza strains but also oseltamivir-resistant flu strains and avian flu strains, of which potential outbreak is a global public health concern.

With such positivity, the Japanese government has granted permission for the manufacturing of baloxavir marboxil and it may be on sale this May. The drug will be marketed as Xofluza. Although it hasn’t been confirmed if Xofluza will be manufactured in the US and internationally, if approved it will most likely be by Shinogi and in partnership with Tamiflu maker Roche for US and international distribution. Regardless if Xofluza becomes approved or not in the US, healthcare professionals still recommend vaccinations as the best option for protection against the flu.

Sources: Science Alert, Live Science

 

 

 

 

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
You May Also Like
MAY 18, 2021
Immunology
A Silver Bullet Against COVID Variants?
MAY 18, 2021
A Silver Bullet Against COVID Variants?
Canadian researchers have discovered an antiviral drug that blocks the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting lung cells. Promi ...
JUN 03, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Antibiotics Ineffective Against Lung-Scarring Disease
JUN 03, 2021
Antibiotics Ineffective Against Lung-Scarring Disease
Researchers behind a large trial of antibiotics for chronic lung diseases have found that that the drugs are ineffective ...
JUN 11, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Laughing Gas Shows Promise in Rapid Relief of Treatment-Resistant Depression
JUN 11, 2021
Laughing Gas Shows Promise in Rapid Relief of Treatment-Resistant Depression
Researchers led by the University of Chicago Medicine and Washington University have found that low doses of laughing ga ...
JUN 29, 2021
Technology
Can Digital Simulations Replace Real People in Clinical Trials? Maybe
JUN 29, 2021
Can Digital Simulations Replace Real People in Clinical Trials? Maybe
Clinical trials are essential to the development of new drugs and medicines, and they offer new insights every day about ...
JUL 06, 2021
Immunology
New Nanotechnology Delivers RNA Drugs Only to "Bad" Immune Cells
JUL 06, 2021
New Nanotechnology Delivers RNA Drugs Only to "Bad" Immune Cells
Inflammatory conditions are linked to an overactive immune system, and resolving them therapeutically often involves cal ...
JUL 08, 2021
Cancer
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
JUL 08, 2021
Activating p53 May Boost Efficacy of Cancer Immunotherapy
Pharmacological activation of the p53 protein in cancer cells leads to an anti-tumor immune response in lab tests. These ...
Loading Comments...