Osteoporosis is disease of the bone where bone mineral density is reduced leading to increased risk of fracture. The two drugs used to treat the disease and which were found effective against the swine flu virus are pamidronate and zoledronate. The drugs are marketed by Novartis AG under the brand names Aredia and Reclast, respectively.
According to reports carried by the international press, the Hong Kong researchers made the discovery after exposing human cells that had been infected with the influenza viruses to the two drugs.
They observed that the 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.
Flu viruses can only replicate in living human or animal cells and killing infected cells would stop the viruses from replicating, the researchers said.
One of the researchers, Professor Lau Yu-lung of the University of Hong Kong, said: “These drugs attack the viruses specifically … this approach kills the factories that are producing viruses.”
New experiments are planned to establish the effectiveness of the two drugs in killing the flu virus in humans.
Swine flu has killed hundreds of people across the world with fears that thousands more could die unless a new and effective drugs are made available especially to poor countries where health care is either below standard or absent.
JOHANNESBURG Researchers in Hong Kong have established that two existing drugs used to treat osteoporosis may be effective in killing influenza viruses, including the new H1N1 swine flu and the H5N1 bird flu viruses.