|The FX of Bird Flu||Nov. 30, 2005|
|Written by: Dr. Gifford Jones, Toronto Sun|
|Research is being carried out on a cold medication's effectiveness|
I've always enjoyed eating chicken. However, now, like many scientists around the world, I've also become interested in the health of chickens. Asian chickens are now infecting one another and millions are dying from the "chicken flu" H5N1 virus. This virus, if transferred to humans may cause a world pandemic that could kill millions of North Americans. And if this happens, what can you do to decrease the risk of leaving this planet prematurely?
Scientists say this deadly virus is a close cousin to the Spanish flu virus that killed millions of people. It's already infected 117 people and killed half of them. And since it's been 25 years since the last pandemic, we're due for another big one.
But there are problems. In Canada, there's only enough Tamiflu to treat 1.2 million people. Most of us won't be on the priority list. Besides, there's no guarantee Tamiflu will be effective against H5N1. Viruses are smart and have the uncanny ability to undergo mutations that are resistant to treatment.
For instance, researchers recently found resistant strains of H5N1 in a Vietnamese girl who had been treated with Tamiflu. Moreover, she was infected by her brother, not by chickens. This, a rare case of human-to-human transmission, could reach epidemic proportions. So we have to face the grim truth. Today there's precious little in our arsenal to protect against H5N1 if and when it strikes North America.
But as Samuel Johnson once remarked, "nothing sharpens the wit so much as the knowledge you're going to be hanged in the morning." It also helps to clear the mind when H5N1 may strike suddenly. So this urgency has triggered another approach by a group of Canadian scientists. Why not give our immune system a shot-in-the-arm to increase resistance to influenza and H5N1?
Dr. Gerry Predy, Edmonton's Medical Officer of Health, along with other Canadian infectious disease experts, will determine whether Cold-fX, the brain-child of CV Technologies, fits the bill.
Dr. Jacqueline Shan, CEO and chief scientific officer of CV Technologies, a leading science and technology company says, "This study will investigate the effectiveness of Cold-fX in preventing respiratory viral infections in community-dwelling seniors who have been vaccinated against influenza. This additional protection is needed as we know that the flu vaccine is not as effective in seniors."
She adds, "Previous clinical and immunological studies suggested that Cold-fX offers a broader spectrum of anti-viral properties by enhancing the immune cells' natural fighting mechanism. Therefore Cold-fX may be useful as a complementary or alternative therapy to the flu vaccine."
Participants in this study will take either 400 milligrams (mg) Cold-fX a day (standard dose), 800 mg (high dose) or a placebo for a period of six months. They will report any respiratory infections and symptoms. And throat swaps will be tested for influenza A and B, parainfluenza 1, 2 and 3 and respiratory syncytial virus.
Dr. Andrew Simor, head of microbiology at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto says, "This study represents a whole new direction in preventing and managing influenza and cold viral infection through immune modulation."
Dr. Janet McElhaney, an international renowned infectious expert at the University of B.C. reports, "Two previous U.S. studies showed that Cold-fX demonstrated an 89% reduction is influenza among nursing home seniors."
Now another report published by the respected Canadian Medical Association Journal shows Cold-fX reduced recurrent respiratory infections by 56% with a 31% decrease in the severity of symptoms.
Cold-fX is derived from North American ginseng and its technology ensures safety, efficacy and consistency unlike many other over-the-counter products.
Since air travel can bring H5N1 to this country within 24 hours, it will require a miracle to confine it to Asia. And Cold-fX, by boosting our own antibody producing cells, may help to defend us from chicken flu.
|MORE COLUMNS BY DR. GIFFORD JONES, TORONTO SUN|