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Bone drugs 'attack flu viruses'

18th August 2009

Two nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates already used to treat osteoporosis may also be useful treatments for flu viruses, including the new H1N1 swine flu and H5N1 bird flu.

flu virus testing

Researchers in Hong Kong found that pamidronate and zoledronate (marketed under the names Aredia and Reclast) also cause the production a type of white blood cell that also eliminates the body of cells infected by flu, in addition to fighting osteoporosis.

The white blood cells generated by the two drugs, called gamma/delta-T cells, target cells in the body that the virus has already infected.

They are much less common than other types of T-cell found within the body.

Professor Lau Yu-lung at the University of Hong Kong's pediatrics and adolescent medicine department said that infected cells become like factories that will produce viruses.

He said that the two drugs attack the viruses specifically, killing the factories that are producing viruses.

Malik Peiris, another member of the research team, said that the drugs could provide a general immune boost to the entire body in the face of a constantly mutating flu virus.

In a separate study made by German researchers several years ago, the two drugs were also found to inhibit the proliferation of human melanoma.



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