New research project to study protection against future influenza epidemics
The influenza drug Tamiflu is a potent and important defense against future influenza epidemics. Recently, however, increased resistance to this important drug is being seen. The Swedish Research Council FORMAS has now granted SEK 5.9 million to a new research project that is to examine the development of resistance in influenza virus and how the drug Tamiflu behaves in the environment.
In many countries Tamiflu is stockpiled to moderate the effects of a future influenza epidemic. Unfortunately, increased resistance is being developed against this vital drug, partly because it is used too liberally for ordinary seasonal influenza.
"Increased resistance can be a threat to one of our defenses against future influenza epidemics. This project takes a new approach to how to study the development of Tamiflu resistant virus and how the development of resistance in influenza virus is affected by the prevalence of Tamiflu in the environment," says research director Björn Olsen at the Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University.
The research project is interdisciplinary, combining studies involving the fate of Tamiflu in the environment and the development of Tamiflu-resistant influenza virus. Researchers from Uppsala University, Umeå University, and the Karolinska Institute are collaborating by combining environmental chemistry, virology, and knowledge about infectious diseases.
A number of different questions will be elucidated: studies of the degradation of Tamiflu in purification plants will be combined with an examination of levels in the environment. This study will be conducted in Japan, since Japan is the country where the greatest amount of Tamiflu is prescribed for ordinary seasonal influenza. In Japan 40 percent of influenza patients are treated with Tamiflu, which makes Japan a ‘hot spot.' The research project has established cooperation with researchers at Kyoto University and several rounds of field samples have been planned.
Observed levels in the environment will then be used in a wild duck-based infection model for studies of the development of Tamilflu resistance in viruses. Swimming ducks, such as mallards, are in fact the natural source of all influenza viruses. This will be combined with a study of the prevalence of resistant viruses in fecal samples from wild ducks in the vicinity of Japanese sewage purification plants.
For further information please contact Björn Olsen, phone: +46 (0)18-611 56 61; cell phone: +46 (0)70-238 49 44; email@example.com or Jerker Fick, phone: +46 (0)90-786 93 24; firstname.lastname@example.org
Uppsala universitet är Sveriges äldsta universitet, grundat 1477. Vi har över 50 000 studenter och 7 500 medarbetare i Uppsala och i Visby. Vi är ett brett forskningsuniversitet med forskning inom samhällsvetenskaper, humaniora, teknikvetenskap, naturvetenskap, medicin och farmakologi. Universitetet är återkommande rankat som ett av världens främsta universitet, med målet att bedriva utbildning och forskning av högsta kvalitet och relevans för att göra långsiktig skillnad i samhället.