Bird flu battled by cod fish
An Icelandic company claims that an enzyme it has
found in cod could help scientists to find a drug to fight the avian
, founded in 1996 by scientists from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik
, concentrates on making
pharmaceuticals and cosmetics developed from enzymes found in fish. One of the
company's medical products is Penzim, a compound first identified in the
digestive system of cod which in the past has been shown to help relieve a
variety of conditions including skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.
Zymetech's managing director JÃ³n Bragi Bjarnason, said that a formulation of
Penzim had been shown to destroy 99% of H5N1 avian
virus cells in an experimental culture within five minutes.
â€œThe results against the avian flu virus look very promising,â€ said
Professor Bjarnason, who teaches biochemistry at the University of Iceland. He
said he believed the enzyme could be used to help to develop an alternative to
Roche's anti-flu drug Tamiflu and other rival products. Rather than a tablet, he
said the enzyme could also be developed into a spray for use as a topical
anti-flu disinfectant. The report by Retroscreen Virology said such a product
â€œwould be ideal for use in poultry farms or quarantine units to prevent
species-to-species transmission of the virus. In addition, healthcare workers,
research scientists and those handling infected animals would benefit.â€
Zymetech is currently seeking to raise up to $30 million to help further
develop Penzim as a pharmaceutical product and conduct initial clinical trials.
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