Conclusions

Influenza virus infections and a potential influenza pandemic continue to be a major acute threat to the public health worldwide. The recent emergence of a highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus poses an increasing human pandemic threat. There is concern that it can mutate into a form that allows easy transmission between humans. Thus, there is an urgent need for more effective methods to control and treat influenza infections. Existing vaccine technologies require considerable lead-time in manufacturing a vaccine that is effective against a given strain of the virus. Neuraminidase inhibitors are attractive agents not only to treat illness caused by influenza infections but also to prevent infections. Tamiflu is widely prescribed to treat influenza infections, and is shown to be effective in reducing the time to alleviation of illness caused by influenza. However, its effectiveness in patients infected with H5N1 virus is limited, and virus strains resistant to Tamiflu are observed in the clinic [79]. Despite recent progress with the introduction of Relenza and Tamiflu, there is still urgent need for different classes of effective neuraminidase inhibitors to treat illness caused by influenza.

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