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Possible flu cure unveiled

A new drug is proving effective in preventing the spread of different strains of influenza.

While a cure for the common cold is a way off, as reported in Science magazine, a global collaboration of CSIRO scientists have had a breakthrough in their research and developed a new drug, Relenza, to combat the latest flu pandemic.

Relenza has proven to be effective in preventing the spread of different strains of influenza, including resistant strains of the virus. To infect cells, the flu virus binds onto sugars on the cell surface. To be able to spread they need to remove these sugars. The new drug works by preventing the virus from removing sugars and blocking the virus from infecting more cells.

According to the World Health Organisation, influenza kills approximately 500,000 people each year, with up to 2,500 of those deaths occurring in Australia. Costs to our health care system are estimated to be more than $85m. It will be several months before Relenza will be available for prescription to the public.

More information on this research can be found at sciencemag.org.

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