Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 16 Flu Update

A new weakness of the bird flu virus has been found. British researchers are reporting that there is a second set of neuriminidase that has four instead of five. This opens up a new playing field in the development of anti-virals.

"Those drugs were designed using the structure from one group of neuraminidases and, it turns out, genetically, there's another group," said John Skehel, senior author of the study and director of the National Institute of Medical Research in London. "The first group contains five neuraminidases, and the second group contains four."

"What we've done is determine the structure of three of those four, which hadn't been done before and, it turns out, they show some structural differences from the group that was used to develop Tamiflu and Relenza," he continued. "The major difference is the presence of a cavity next to the active site of the enzyme. In this group, the cavity is a constant feature."

This suggests that it may be possible to design or identify other compounds that would block neuraminidase activity.

"Relenza and Tamiflu work, so the idea is that this difference in structure might be used to develop new drugs which would block the neuraminidase just in this group," Skehel explained. "It may also well be that they block activity in both groups."

A 9-year old girl has been confirmed dead in Indonesia of bird flu. She lives in the village where there are some cluster suspicions.

Skagit Valley, WA, is doing wild bird surveillance for bird flu.

Matsu, a remote island in Taiwan, is completing a bird flu exercise today.

The Health Director in DeSoto County, FL, went to the paper to make sure people did not panic over the bird flu situation in Michigan.

Jasonville, IN, will hold its final informational meeting for the public.

Knox County IL held a tabletop influenza simulation.

Four countries in Southern Africa are preparing to keep the bird flu from entering the region.

York and Adams Counties, in Pennsylvania, and conducting joint pandemic planning.

Missouri is preparing for Tamiflu purchases for the state.

Effect Measure looks at a paper on a cytokine storm in another disease, and what lessons it could provide for H5N1. (Cytokine Storm is a disregulation of the immune system that is part of the lethal force of bird flu.)

Recombinomics says that town in Indonesia with three cases may have a fourth.

The Snomish County Health District is preparing to stockpile Tamiflu, for its employees and families.


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