Xenova leaps on hope for new flu treatment

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The Independent Online

Shares in Xenova, the biotech group which is planning a £10m fundraising, jumped 21 per cent yesterday on news that its technology may have thrown up an im-pressive new treatment for flu.

Researchers at Imperial College London have found flu symptoms such as shortness of breath and inflammation of the lungs can be stopped using Xenova's OX40 molecule, which dampens the body's immune response.

Tracy Hussell, of Imperial's centre for molecular microbiology and infection, published research in the respected Journal of Experimental Medicine that suggested OX40 may prove a more lucrative molecule for Xenova than anyone had been predicting. She said: "During flu infection, the immune system has an 'all hands on deck' attitude to the viral assault. But it's this that causes most of the damage. By selectively reducing this cellular load we've shown it's possible to eliminate clinical symptoms whilst effectively tackling and clearing the infection."

David Oxlade, the chief executive of Xenova, cautioned that the experiments, conducted on mice and funded through a collaboration with the US biotech giant Genentech were only early stage work. The shares jumped 2.75p to 15.75p.

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