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RADICAL NEW APPROACH TO AIDS AND OTHER VIRAL INFECTIONS

 RADICAL NEW APPROACH TO AIDS AND OTHER VIRAL INFECTIONS
 ADELAIDE, Australia, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- At an international scientific meeting in Adelaide, today, British, Canadian and Tanzanian investigators released information about a radical new approach to viral infections, Efamol Ltd. announced today. This is completely different from any other treatment concept and has also involved studies in France, Italy and the U.S.A.
 The essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a group of vitamin-like essential nutrients whose importance for health has received little attention. There are two main EFAs in the diet, linolenic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). But these are pre-vitamins: They do little by themselves and to be useful to the body they must be converted within the body to other EFAs. LA must be converted to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), while ALA must be converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
 Work in the 1930s showed that during viral infections the blood EFA levels became seriously reduced but no notice of this was taken for over 50 years. Then investigators at the Efamol research institute in Nova Scotia, Canada, using samples provided by the French discoverer of the AIDS virus, Professor Luc Montagnier, reported that blood EFA levels were seriously depleted in AIDS. At the same time researchers from the University of Ohio found that students infected with Epstein-Barr Virus (the cause of infectious mononucleosis) also had reduced blood EFA concentrations.
 Confirmation of the depleted EFA levels in AIDS has now come from three further sources. Doctors in Rome have also found that Italian AIDS patients show the same pattern. At the Adelaide meeting scientists from the Royal Free Hospital in London, and from the University of Miami in Florida reported essentially the same results. All the various groups agree that all the EFA levels fall but that the concentrations of the metabolites formed from LA and ALA fall further than those of the parent EFAs. This indicates that the virus interferes with the body's ability to make GLA and EFA from the parent dietary EPAs.
 This work throws light on two other observations, one very old and one relatively new, which have previously not been well understood. The old observation is that patients with Eczema, who are known to have low blood EFA levels, are highly susceptible to many different types of viral infections. For example smallpox vaccination, which involved the inoculation of a very weak live virus, could prove highly dangerous in children with Eczema, producing a serious disease and even death.
 The relatively new observation, which has received little attention, concerns the mechanism by which the body's own virus-fighting agent, interferon, works. Researchers in the U.S.A. demonstrated that, to be effective as an anti-viral agent, interferon needs EFAs which can be converted into substances called prostaglandins. Without the EFAs and the prostaglandins, the anti-viral actions of interferon are lost or much diminished.
 Researchers from Scotia Pharmaceuticals in the U.K., and Scotia's research laboratory, the Efamol research institute in Nova Scotia, put these observations together. They realized that one strategy by which viruses attack the body might involve depletion of the body's stores of EFAs and reduction of the conversion of LA to GLA and of ALA to EPA. As a result the body's own interferon would be less effective than it should be. Of course, interferon administered as a drug would also be ineffective because of the reduced levels of EFAs on which it could work. Moreover, the Scotia investigators thought that the EFAs themselves might exert anti-viral effects because many viruses are killed by exposure to low levels of EFAs.
 Scotia therefore set up trials of a combination of GLA and EPA in the form of a nutritional supplement called Efamol Marine. This was first tested, on a double-blind, placebo-controlled basis, in 63 patients with clearly defined post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFs). PVFs, sometimes know as ME, is a syndrome of chronic fatigue following a viral infection and which may be associated with persistent infection with a virus. The patients were given Efamol Marine or placebo for three months with neither doctors nor patients knowing who was receiving what. When the code was broken at the end of the study it was found that 85 percent of the patients on Efamol Marine but only 17 percent of those on placebo felt better. This is the first time that any drug has been shown to improve post-viral fatigue in a placebo-controlled study.
 Finally, David Horrobin, the research director of Scotia, contacted an old student, Professor Jacob Mtabaji of the Muhimbili Medical Centre in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. As a result of this contact, Professors Palangyo and Maselle of Muhimbili and Dr. Mike Winther of Scotia were brought into the project. AIDS in Tanzania is a very serious problem. patients come to see their doctors late and after a first visit to Muhimbili the survival rate after three months is only 7.5 percent.
 A study of Efamol Marine was therefore set up. 12 patients with AIDS, diagnosed on the basis of evidence of HIV infection from a blood test, severe weight loss, and at least two other symptoms of AIDS, were selected for the study. At the end of 12 weeks on Efamol Marine the patients had put on weight and experienced considerable improvement in their symptoms with a reduction in fatigue, a reduction in diarrhea and an improvement in skin rashes. Moreover there was a significant improvement in the CD4 lymphocyte count, an important marker of the severity of AIDS, from 59 to 261 cubic millimeters. The treatment proved very safe, with none of the patients experiencing adverse events.
 Now, approximately 20 months after starting the study, five of the twelve patients remain alive and relatively well. This is an extraordinary survival rate for AIDS patients in Tanzania and argues that this safe and relatively inexpensive treatment may be of great benefit in assisting the body itself to deal with the viral infection. much larger studies are now under way. This promises to be a major advance in the treatment not only of AIDS but of viral infections in general. It also promises to be synergistic with other ways of tackling viral infections.
 -0- 3/5/92
 /CONTACT: David Horrobin of Efamol LTD, in the U.K: 44-483-304-441/ CO: Efamol Ltd. ST: IN: MTC SU: PDT


TS -- NY006 -- 5219 03/05/92 07:16 EST
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Date:Mar 5, 1992
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