NIH sponsors three influenza-related clinical trials

The National Institutes of Health announced on Tuesday that it recently sponsored three clinical trials seeking to find more effective influenza treatments at several dozen domestic and international sites.

The studies are sponsored by the NIAID Influenza Research Collaboration, a clinical research network. The three trials will take place at 36 sites in the United States, including the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. International sites for the trials include Thailand, Mexico, Australia and Argentina.

"This year's flu season came earlier than usual and has been particularly hard on the elderly," Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. "Despite our best efforts to prevent influenza through vaccination, people still get sick every year with the flu. At best, influenza infection is a miserable experience. At worst, it can be a deadly one. We need better ways to treat people with influenza, which kills thousands of people in the United States each year, and clinical research supported by NIAID helps to address that need."

The first study examines flu treatment with oseltamivir, a licensed influenza drug, to determine if it reduces the time that infected people continue to produce upper airway virus. No studies have conclusively shown if the drug significantly reduces the amount of virus shed by an infected person.

The second trial will study whether a combination of three licensed flu antiviral drugs works better than oseltamivir alone in people with influenza who have chronic health conditions.

The third trial will determine if treatment with anti-influenza enriched plasma improves the condition of hospitalized influenza patients compared to standard antiviral treatment.

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