Spray to catch flu in nose

March 15, 1996

A new nasal spray that could help conquer influenza is being developed at Cardiff University's Common Cold and Nasal Research Centre, writes Iola Smith.

The spray prevents flu viruses from clinging to cells in the nose - where they first enter the body.

Ron Eccles, the centre's director, said: "There is an enzyme in flu viruses which latches on to the nasal passage as a way of getting into the cells of the body. The spray inhibits this virus.

"Normally, when the virus is in the cells it changes and nothing can shift it. But once you have been infected by a strain of flu virus, you are very unlikely to catch the same strain again."

Flu tends to occur in epidemics, which spread rapidly through a large population. Some, such as the 1918 strain, spread across the world and killed more than ten million people. This year's version, according to Dr Eccles, is the Johannesburg strain.

He reckons that new strains emerge when a virus is passed from ducks to pigs and then to humans. This happens where all three live close together, such as in China and the rest of east Asia. Consequently many strains are Asian in origin, including the 1957-58 epidemic and the Hong Kong flu of 1968-70.

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