Bird flu update

NHK reports that Japanese researchers have succeeded in producing a chemically composed version of the anti-bird flu drug Tamiflu, which is now made from plants. Many countries are stockpiling Tamiflu to cope with any outbreak of the killer bird flu. It has been difficult to produce the drug in large quantities in a short period as it is made from the nuts of a plant called star anise, which originates in China. Read more about Tamiflu on the Protein Spotlight website.

What do Peking duck and the French aperitif pastis have in common? A scent: that of badian – otherwise known as star anis. And if star anis has been of growing interest recently it is less for its spicy perfume than for its antiviral virtues… Indeed, a molecule known as shikimic acid is found in the Chinese star anis and it is from this that the popular drug Tamiflu is designed. Now that the dread of an outbreak of the Avian flu carried by the H5N1 strain is hovering over us, badian has an aftertaste of Tamiflu.

Already, Korean scientists have announced plans to produce a generic version of Tamiflu, according to Chosun Ilbo.

I think it is so interesting that many of the World's most important drugs actually come from plants, and have been used in traditional medicine for a long time.

Meanwhile, as France has confirmed an outbreak of bird flu in a turkey farm, BBC reports that Japan has banned imports of chicken from France. It is the first time a European Union farm has been infected, while eight EU countries - Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia - have so far confirmed cases of the lethal H5N1 strain in wild birds.


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