Monday, March 19, 2018
Japanese Drug 'Xofluza' Kills Flu Virus in Only One Day
2/28/2018 9:01:59 PM
Arthur J. Villasanta - Fourth Estate Contributor

TokyO, Japan (4E) - Japan last Feb. 23 approved the sale of "Xofluza" (Baloxavir marboxil), a drug developed by Shionogi & Company that can kill the influenza A and influenza B virus in just one day. The drug remains in late-stage trials in the United States and should become available to the public in 2019.

A single-dose drug, Xofluza will be available in Japanese pharmacies in May. Xofluza works by inhibiting an enzyme needed by the flu virus to replicate. The drug works in only 24 hours because it cripples a process known as "cap snatching."

This is the mechanism used by viruses to hijack the mRNA (a nucleic acid in living cells that acts as a messenger for DNA) transcription system to allow the creation of viral RNAs.

Shinogi said that unlike existing flu medicines like Tamiflu that try to block viral material from infecting other cells, Xofluza stops the virus from hijacking healthy cells to replicate itself, which kills it off sooner. Patients not only seem to recover faster, but are also less likely to pass the virus on to someone else when Xofluza is used.

Xofluza is an "excellent addition" to current flu-fighting medications, said Dr Sherif Mossad, an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic. "This could lead to easier treatment of flu."

In a clinical trial, Japanese and American patients that took Xofluza when they had the flu saw the virus wiped out in 24 hours, on average.

The only drug available in the U.S. to fight the flu is Tamiflu, which is taken twice daily over five straight days. Unlike Xofluza, Tamiflu doesn't kill the flu virus. It just lowers the odds that patients will suffer serious complications like pneumonia.

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