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Australian scientists make breakthrough in developing treatment for viral diseases

MELBOURNE, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have made a significant breakthrough in developing a treatment for common viral diseases, the lead scientists told Xinhua on Friday.

The international collaboration, led by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, identified a protein, Nox2 oxidase, which is triggered by viral diseases such as influenza, the common cold, dengue fever and HIV.

Once triggered the protein, which was discovered in plants, fungi and mammals, suppresses the body's antiviral reaction, resulting in a more severe infection.

Stavros Selemidis, the lead author of the study, said that the team had developed a drug that successfully trialled a prototype drug in mice that limited the impact of Nox2 oxidase.

He said while human trials were still at least five years away, he believes the drug "has strong potential."

"Current treatment strategies are limited as they specifically target circulating viruses and have either unknown or very little effect against new viruses that enter the human population," Selemidis said.

"We developed a novel drug delivery system to target this protein, which drastically alleviated the burden of viral disease."

RMIT worked with the University of South Australia, Trinity College Dublin and Monash University to make the breakthrough, a collaboration that Selemidis described as "absolutely critical."

Callum Drummond, Vice-Chancellor or Research and Innovation at RMIT, said the project held immense promise.

"The unique partnership between Selemidis' laboratory at the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT and his collaborators continues," Drummons said in a media release.

"Selemidis' laboratory and his collaborators are pursuing further research to aid development of novel drugs for further trials and this is showing great potential."


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