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Efficacy Confirmed. Maybe.

AVI BioPharma reports the testing of a new 'antisense' drug against a variety of viruses, including H5N1.

These confirmations validate our approach to blocking replication of influenza viruses. We now believe that a single NEUGENE drug could be effective against most influenza subtypes, including the H5N1 avian strain," said Patrick L. Iversen, Ph.D., senior vice president of research and development at AVI. "By targeting regions of the viral genetic code that are common to all influenza A subtypes, we expect that our NEUGENE drugs will be effective against avian flu and the far more common influenza A viruses, which kill an average of 35,000 Americans every year.

...The speed with which effective NeuGene drugs can be designed and manufactured exceeds any other modern drug development timeframe. For example, NeuGene compounds targeting SARS, WNV and Ebola were developed within days to weeks of obtaining the appropriate genetic sequences for the viruses.

The 'fact' that this kind of treatment can be generated quickly and has a broader spectrum of effect across genetically different strains is very good thing, if true. No information here on when the availability of this medication can be expected. Human trials against some known variants, especially of avian flu in humans, will occur only in the hot zone at time of need, I'm thinking. But this might be the biggest step in the right direction yet, and it makes me think of all the basic science over all the years since Watson and Crick divulged the 'double helix' so that now we can tailor-make gene-targeted medicine.

By the way, a new resource on avian flu has come on line recently. The site's author is an M.D. and director for a large life insurance company. His perspective seems to come from a rational, middle-of-the-road perspective. The sky isn't falling. There is no wolf. But we'd best watch this carefully.

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