Credit: Sheknows

Amarillo Biosciences, local biotech company has been testing its orally administered interferon in the test to study its efficiency in preventing the flu in 200 people in Western Australia.

Joe Cummins, chief executive referring to the H1N1 virus spread in the Southern Hemisphere last year said, We have the only human data generated during the pandemic.

In those older than 50 who took interferon, flu-like illness reduced from 63 per cent to 33 per cent compared with the control group who did not take interferon.

However, according to the study, interferon, which is a naturally produced antiviral protein in the body, had no effect on flu-like illness in those younger than 50.

Cummins who has a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Missouri and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Ohio State University said, he doesn't have an explanation to the reason why the drug is less effective in persons younger than 50.

He said, the company's next step is to verify the results with a more expansive US study.

The drug has shown positive results in the treatment of oral warts in HIV-positive patients, chronic cough, hepatitis B and C.

The research efforts are more focused on the flu, as it is receiving more attention from investors due to the H1N1 outbreak.

The second study would be in the US and probably done on 650 patients, said Cummins, saying that the study would cost $1 million, and hopefully start this fall.

While the study in Australia focused on prevention, the trial in the US, will be studying three strengths of interferon versus a placebo.

The Australian study was led by Dr. Manfred Beilharz, chairman of microbiology and immunology at the University of WA.

The company estimated the interferon therapy could save the Western Australian government from $600,000 to $1.77 million a year and prevent more than 350 deaths Australia-wide.

The study found those who took interferon daily and received the flu vaccine were less likely to develop flu symptoms compared to those who received the vaccine alone.

We enhanced the protection of the vaccination, said Cummins, founder of the company.