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2010/01/18 11:09 KST
S. Korean scientists identify traditional remedy for H1N1 flu

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean scientists have identified a substance commonly used in traditional Oriental medicine that can destroy the Type-A H1N1 flu virus responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide last year, a local research institute said Monday.

   The Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM) said the team led by Ma Jin-yeul, head of KIOM's Oriental medicine convergence research center, extracted the material from "common" natural substances widely used in traditional remedies.

   The drug, known by its scientific name KIOM-C, was given to mice infected with the Type-A flu virus, all traces of which vanished from the lungs of the test animals after nine days of treatment. Animals that received other drugs during the tests died.

   "Laboratory tests conducted at the local company BioLeaders Corp. showed the potent anti-viral qualities of the drug made from a substance found in Oriental medicine," Ma said without going into details on the materials used in the drug.

   Ma claimed the latest development could open new horizons for applying traditional medicine to combat viruses like H1N1.

   BioLeaders operates a hightech, internationally recognized Bio Safety Level-3 laboratory.

   KIOM, meanwhile, said because the drug is made from "all natural" substances it did not carry the negative side effects, including rapid weight loss and nausea, usually associated with such antiviral drugs as Tamiflu. The drug can also be administered orally making it easier for patients to take the medication.

   It said a local patent has been secured in November with protection being requested under the international Patent Cooperation Treaty.

   The institute said because the new substance has shown it can kill off viruses, it will conduct more research to find other medicinal uses in the future.