HONG KONG (Reuters) – Scientists in Hong Kong and the United States have identified a synthetic compound which appears to be able to stop the replication of influenza viruses, including the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The search for such new “inhibitors” has grown more urgent in recent years as drugs, like oseltamivir, have become largely ineffective against certain flu strains, like the H1N1 seasonal flu virus. Experts now question how well and how long the drug would stand up against the H5N1, should it unleash a pandemic.

Researchers in Hong Kong and the Unites States screened some 230,000 compounds that were catalogued with the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and found 20 that could potentially restrict the proliferation of the H5N1. The experts told a news conference on Wednesday one of the compounds, compound 1 or NSC89853, showed promise. “We have found a compound that is different from oseltamivir but which acts in the same way,” (Snip)
“An analogy would be like we have a door with a keyhole, but the hole has changed, and the key, in this case oseltamivir, can’t lock the door anymore,” (Snip) “But we have discovered another keyhole and another key which can lock the door.”
In their experiment, the researchers infected separate batches of cultured human cells with seasonal flu virus and H5N1 and found that compound 1 prevented the replication of both types of viruses effectively. “Given the problems with drug resistance, this compound can be used to develop a new drug,” (Snip) But he cautioned it would take as much as eight years for such a drug to be available on the market. Continued