The H7N9 strain of bird flu circulating in China appears to have easily developed resistance to antiviral drug treatment, according to the authors of a new study published today (May 29) in The Lancet. Three out of 14 patients treated with antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, which had helped control infection in other flu patients, became resistant to the treatment and failed to respond.
The 14 patients studied all developed pneumonia and many required ventilators to help them breathe. Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu were administered, and in most patients, the drugs helped reduce viral load, leading to better outcomes. However, three patients did not respond to the treatments, and two of them died. A genetic analysis of isolates from these patients showed that the virus had developed mutations that allowed it to escape the drug’s mechanism of action.
One of the three patients appeared to develop resistance after treatment with antivirals, suggesting that the mutations arose in response to treatment….