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New Flu Drug Informed by UT Austin Professor's 40-year-old Basic Research

New Flu Drug Informed by UT Austin Professor's 40-year-old Basic Research

Last year, Texas saw a particularly deadly flu season. Now, there is a new Federal Drug Administration-approved treatment, Xofluza, designed to catch the flu in its early stages and stop it from spreading. The drug is thanks in large part to professor emeritus Robert Krug's basic research, undertaken almost 40 years ago.

In the 1970s, Krug discovered a unique pathway, called "cap-snatching." It is the mechanism that the influenza virus uses to begin copying its viral genetic information and proteins, which starts the infection and allows it to spread.

"[The flu virus] is stealing a piece of a host cell messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) to use as a primer to initiate the chains of viral messenger RNA," Krug said. "That was a big surprise. In fact, it was hard to publish the first paper. Nobody believed it."

Xofluza is meant for those over 12 years of age who have had flu symptoms for less than 48 hours to block the virus from progressing. It is not an alternative to the flu vaccination, but it will inhibit the virus if you become infected.

"I can't emphasize how important it is for basic research funded by NIH (National Institutes of Health) to keep going so that other people who make such discoveries will eventually help human health," Krug said.

Krug's integral role in the groundbreaking new flu drug has been featured by the following local media outlets:

Texas Standard: The Latest Flu Drug Is The Product Of A 40-Year-Old Discovery

CBS Austin: UT scientist paves the way for new groundbreaking flu drug Xofluza

KXAN: Texas researcher behind new flu drug approved by FDA

Austin360: University of Texas professor's research leads to new anti-flu drug

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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

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