American and Japanese flu patients who took part in the recent trial carried out by Shionogi & Co are said to have had the virus wiped from their bodies in just 24 hours. For comparison, the popular Tamiflu medicine takes three times as long.
The Shionogi pill and Tamiflu take around the same time to entirely contain flu symptoms, but the former provides immediate relief much quicker. What’s more, is that it only requires a single dose to be effective, whereas Tamiflu has to be taken twice a day for five days.
Shionogi built upon their anti-HIV medicine to produce a drug that’s different to other flu medications. The virus works by hijacking human cells and forcing them to produce viral material rather than proteins, which would normally spread the virus around the body. While the currently available medication stops the virus from exiting the infected cell and spreading, Shionogi’s method prevents the viral material from being produced in the first place.
Research into fighting the influenza virus usually concentrates on improving existing vaccines, rather than developing new treatments. However, this project could be a major step forward in the ongoing battle against influenza, as killing the virus quickly could reduce the risk of infected individuals spreading it around.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Shionogi says that Japan’s regulatory authority for drugs is fast-tracking the approval for the medication. However, an application for US approval will be submitted over the summer, although a response isn’t expected until 2019.