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LIAI initiatives battle influenza; Potential bird flu treatment among their findings

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 19, 2005) The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) is making significant strides in the battle against the avian "bird" flu, with pre-clinical trials under way on a potential treatment conceived by one of its scientists. The Institute, a not-for-profit organization whose cutting-edge research focuses on infectious diseases and other immune system disorders, is also developing information for a "universal" flu vaccine, as well as researching a needle-free vaccine that would treat various influenza strains, including the avian flu.

The Institute, which launched an Emerging Infectious Disease and Biodefense Research Center in 2004, is conducting three major research initiatives to attack the influenza virus -- all of which may be applicable to the avian flu strain, known as the H5N1 virus. "We understand the devastating potential of an avian flu outbreak as well as the problems caused each year by the more conventional flu strains," said Mitchell Kronenberg, LIAI President and Scientific Director, noting that 200,000 Americans are hospitalized and 36,000 die each year from the flu. "Our researchers are working diligently to understand the cellular mechanisms that hold the key to preventing or treating influenza," he said. "We are particularly excited that our research shows promise against the avian flu, as that may be the most urgent health issue now facing the world."

A potential treatment for the avian flu involving human flu-fighting antibodies was conceived by LIAI scientist Hilde Cheroutre, Ph.D., and initiated through a collaborative effort of LIAI and Gemini Science, a biopharmaceutical research and development company and wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. of Japan. Gemini moved forward in 2000 with laboratory testing on the antibodies, which have produced preliminary data showing positive results against numerous flu strains, including the H5N1 avian flu.

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Contact: Bonnie Ward
contact@liai.org
619-303-3160
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
19-Dec-2005


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