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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories

Asian countries gearing up for bird-flu

Asian governments, having accepted that avian influenza will mutate into a human form, are now preparing to become the fulcrum of a global battle with the pandemic. Western governments have been stockpiling vaccines and antivirals, but Peter Cordingley of the World Health Organisation claimed that such actions are futile and that world health bodies feel the virus needs to be tackled in Asia. Thailand, China, Indonesia and Singapore have all started gathering vaccines and outlining emergency plans, and begun to cull birds suspected to be carriers of the infection.

Malaria drug potency restored

Australian researchers say they have managed to restore the former potency of old anti-malarial drug chloroquine by combining it with another preparation, primaquine. The effect has been a renewed vigour in tackling the parasite which causes the disease, Plasmodium falciparum. More recent anti-malarial preparations are proving too weak or expensive to tackle the disease symptoms, so the developments are being watched enthusiastically. However, professor Ron Behrens of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said primaquine was not suitable to all patients as it could trigger the breakdown of red blood cells in people with an enzyme deficiency.

Exercise cuts Alzheimer's risk, says study

The risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease can be reduced by exercising in middle age, according to a Swedish study published in The Lancet Neurology Journal. Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that middle-aged people who exercised at least twice a week had a 60 per cent lower risk of suffering from dementia than those who led a more sedentary lifestyle. Dr Miia Kivipelto of the Aging Research Centre at the institute said that physical activity had an even more pronounced effect among those with the susceptibility gene apoe4, the most important risk factor for Alzheimer's.

30th September 2008

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