AMAR is focusing its development efforts for oral interferon on two human disease indications: influenza and hepatitis C.  An overview of each of these diseases is provided below with links to other websites for more information.

Influenza 

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.  It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.  Influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms: 1) fever (usually high), 2) headache, 3) tiredness (can be extreme), 4) cough, 5) sore throat, 6) runny or stuffy nose, 7) body aches, and 8) digestive problems such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing.  Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.  Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 days after becoming sick.  That means that a person may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before they know they are sick, as well as while they are sick.

Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on 2 proteins on the surface of the virus: the hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N).  There are 16 different H subtypes and 9 different N subtypes, all of which have been found among influenza A viruses in wild birds.  Migratory waterfowl are the primary natural reservoir for all subtypes of influenza A viruses and are thought to be the source of influenza A viruses in all other animals.  Most influenza viruses cause asymptomatic or mild infection in birds; however, the range of symptoms in birds varies greatly depending on the strain of virus.  Infection with certain avian influenza A viruses (for example, some strains of H5 and H7 viruses) can cause widespread disease and death among some species of wild and especially domestic birds such as chickens and turkeys.

Pigs can be infected with both human and avian influenza viruses in addition to swine influenza viruses.  Infected pigs get symptoms similar to humans, such as cough, fever and runny nose.  Because pigs are susceptible to avian, human and swine influenza viruses, they potentially may be infected with influenza viruses of different species (e.g., ducks and humans) at the same time.  If this happens, it is possible for the genes of these viruses to mix (reassort) and create a new virus. This happened in March 2009 with the emergence of the swine-origin H1N1 virus that has now caused a worldwide pandemic.

Oral interferon is being tested to see if it can both: (1) reduce the severity of flu symptoms when used as prophylaxis during a typical winter cold/flu season and (2) reduce the duration of fever and symptoms in patients with confirmed influenza infection.

For more information about influenza, please visit the following websites:

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but once established, chronic infection can progress to scarring of the liver (fibrosis), and advanced scarring (cirrhosis) which is generally apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure or other complications, including liver cancer. Those who develop cirrhosis or liver cancer may require a liver transplant, but the virus universally recurs after transplantation.  An estimated 270-300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. No vaccine against hepatitis C is currently available

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread by blood-to-blood contact. Most people have few, if any, symptoms after the initial infection, yet the virus persists in the liver (chronic infection) in about 85% of those infected. The standard therapy for chronic HCV infection is a combination of high-dose injectable interferon-alpha and oral ribavirin.  The effectiveness of this treatment regimen is related to viral load and viral genotype. Up to half of patients with certain genotypes who initially respond to standard treatment by clearing the virus (complete virologic response), will relapse as evidenced by a re-emergence of HCV in their blood. Oral interferon is being tested to see if it can reduce the rate of relapse in such patients. For more information about hepatitis C, please visit the following websites:

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