In Brief

Is This Experimental Japanese Drug the Secret to Stopping the Flu?

drug, drug development, science
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A Japanese drug company is offering up a big claim: Shionogi & Co. says it has an experimental pill that can kill the flu virus within a single day, according to news reports.

In a clinical trial, a single dose of the drug made by the pharmaceutical company eliminated the virus from people's bodies in a median time of 24 hours, The Wall Street Journal reported. Both Japanese and American flu patients were included in the trial.

The experimental drug worked three times faster than another antiviral drug, Tamiflu, the company told the Journal.

The drug uses a different approach to fight the flu than other medications. The flu virus spreads through the body by invading cells. Once inside a cell, it hijacks the cell's machinery, forcing the cell to make copies of the virus. Then, the newly copied viruses break out of the cell, spreading to other cells nearby and repeating the process.

Existing drugs, including Tamiflu, work to block these viral copies from escaping the cell, the Journal reported. The experimental drug, however, kicks into action earlier, working to block the virus from hijacking cells in the first place, the Journal said.

Japanese drug regulators could approve the drug for use in Japan by early March, the Journal reported. The drugmaker plans to apply for approval in the U.S. this summer; however, the drug likely wouldn't be available here until next year.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.