A gene mutation known to help influenza resist Tamiflu and Relenza was found in the first of three H7N9 bird-flu patient specimens in China

Tamiflu-Resistance Gene in H7N9 Bird Flu Spurs Drug Tests

A gene mutation known to help influenza resist Tamiflu was found in the first of three H7N9 bird-flu patient specimens in China, sequence data show.

The flu virus from the patient in Shanghai has a mutation known as R292K that causes high-level resistance to the Roche Holding AG (ROG) pill and reduced sensitivity to a related drug from GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) called Relenza, genetic sequence information posted on the website of the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data show. Subsequent H7N9 specimens from a patient in Shanghai and one in Anhui province don’t show the mutation.

The finding of the mutation warrants further analysis, said Masato Tashiro, a director at Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo. Preliminary tests so far show no evidence that the new flu strain, which has sickened at least 33 people, killing nine, in eastern China, has developed resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitor drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, the World Health Organization said in a statement yesterday.“When you look at the raw data and compare the three strains of the virus, there’s a signal from one strain that it’s less sensitive to both of the neuraminidase inhibitors,” Tashiro said in a telephone interview. “It’s not a strong signal, but there’s a possibility” of resistance, he said.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing has studied H7N9 specimens and confirmed that the virus is sensitive to neuraminidase inhibitors, Tashiro said.

“At this point, we should accept what the Chinese CDC says,” he said.

More experiments are needed to understand the biological significance of gene sequence data, said Gavin Smith, an associate professor in the emerging infectious diseases program at Singapore’s Duke-NUS medical school.

Absence of the R292K mutations “would be of less concern than having them there, but it still needs to be tested,” said Smith. “They provide an indication of the type of things we should be looking at.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at kmatsuyama2@bloomberg.net; Jason Gale in Melbourne at j.gale@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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