A Hong Kong University research team have discovered strong evidence that two existing osteoporosis drugs may be useful in fighting human influenza.
Reuters are also reporting that a Hong Kong University study of two osteoporosis drugs from Novartis may be effective in treating different varieties of the flu.
The drugs, which are already available for other uses, pamidronate and zoledronate, are sold by Novartis as Aredia and the widely-advertised Reclast.
If this works in human studies it could have tremendous implications because the flu is a virus and anti-viral drugs are very rare and expensive. In fact, these drugs do not attack the virus directly but are thought to act to prevent the cell from replicating more copies of the virus which also fights the infection.
The original journal report (“Phosphoantigen Expanded Human A A T Cells Display Potent Cytotoxicity against Monocyte Derived Macrophages Infected with Human and Avian Influenza Viruses,” Gang Qin, Huawei Mao, Jian Zheng, Sin Fun Sia, Yinping Liu, Ping ]Lung Chan, Kwok ]Tai Lam, J. S. Malik Peiris, Yu ]Lung Lau, and Wenwei Tu) published in The Journal of Infections Medicine, August 5, 2009, suggests that the drugs might be effective in treating the highly dangerous bird flu H5N1, as well as the currently mild but pandemic Type A H1N1 (swine flu.)
Possible Use For Osteoporosis Drug
It is important to remember that this is an early study, not conducted in humans who actually have a flu infection and therefore may not prove to have any value in treating flu strains, however, it is an interesting result and is certain to be pursued vigorously.
The researchers reported they observed that the osteoporosis drugs triggered extra production of a type of white blood cell called yd-T cells, which went on to kill human cells that were infected with the flu viruses.
Macrophages are white blood cells that operate in the immune system to engulfs and digests anything that does not contain any proteins specific to healthy body cells, including cancer cells on their surface.
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria and archaea. New research indicated they may have positive and negative implications.