Flu Season: Antiviral Research

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.



This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about flu season. We’ve discussed protecting yourself by being vaccinated and washing your hands frequently. Researchers are working on other ways to fight the influenza virus.

It’s difficult to fight the flu because the virus frequently mutates into forms resistant to drugs or vaccines. Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center are testing a compound that increases levels of an antiviral protein in the body and have managed to kill multiple strains of influenza virus, including the particularly deadly strain of Spanish flu that killed millions in 1918. Dr. Beatriz Fontoura, a UT Southwestern cell biologist leading this research, says the compound works on the host’s antiviral response at a cellular level instead of targeting the virus itself. Although this compound shows great promise, a lot more research and testing will be required to develop it into a drug for fighting the flu. It could take more than 10 years to develop a viable drug.

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October 2011

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