A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s - PMLiVE" /> A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s - PMLiVE" /> A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s" /> A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s" />

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Oral interferon effective for colds and flu

A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s

A report on a phase II trial of oral interferon (IFN) shows that it can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms in the over 50s.

The report has been submitted by Dr Manfred Beilharz, chair of microbiology and immunology, School of Biomedical at the University of Western Australia. In the recently completed trial 200 subjects were given low-dose oral IFN.

Dr Beilharz was one of two principal investigators of the study, with Amarillo Biosciences (ABI) providing the IFN. The report, sent to the State Health Research Advisory Council of the Department of Health, Western Australia (DOH WA) evaluated the drug's safety and efficacy in combating colds and influenza. The report is available on ABI's website

In his report, Dr Beilharz writes: "The results of the study show that IFN lozenges can be used to significantly reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory symptoms reported by people over the age of 50 years. A 48 per cent reduction in these symptoms was demonstrated in this study, with the potential to save the DOH WA $600,000 to $1.77m annually depending on the level of treatment uptake by the community.

"IFN prophylaxis was also found to enhance the effect of the 2009 seasonal influenza vaccine, causing a 39 per cent reduction in the number of vaccinated participants reporting influenza-like illnesses. This was despite the fact that seasonal vaccine had previously been shown to be ineffective against the predominant circulating virus (pandemic influenza H1N1 2009)."

Dr Beilharz commented further on the possible uses by broader segments of the population: "In addition, the recruitment process has shown there is a great interest from the wider community in the use of low dose interferon lozenges, particularly in relation to fears precipitated by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Therefore, in view of the good side-effect profile of oral IFN, it could also be used by other community members who wish to reduce risk, though it is likely to require larger trials to define the benefits in those under 50."

Dr Joseph Cummins, CEO of ABI, said: "If the use of low-dose oral interferon can save DOH WA millions of dollars as they serve a small population, the potential savings in the US population are vastly greater. We are eager to conduct clinical trials in an effort to achieve FDA approval, to help reduce healthcare costs in the US."

12th April 2010

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