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Scientists Unite to Fight Disease

More than 120 Chinese and European Union scientists have gathered in Shanghai to seek ways to cooperate in the fight against infectious diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

"We hope to work more closely with European scientists to battle infectious diseases," Wen Yumei, a professor of the Laboratory of Medical Molecular Virology at Fudan University, said on Monday.

Experts from countries including France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Luxembourg were at the seminar yesterday.

Wen, one of the chairpersons, said Chinese scientists and their EU counterparts will try to co-develop new vaccines and medications.

For the past two years, Wen has led a team studying and testing a therapeutic vaccine for viral hepatitis B patients.

The vaccine has been tried on 242 chronic hepatitis B patients. An obvious drop in the key viral load was observed in 37.2 percent of the patients.

Wen said her team has submitted their achievements to scientific journals.

Thomas Muster, a representative of the Austria-based AVIR Green Hills Biotechnology, said his company has developed an intranasal influenza vaccine, FluVacc NS1.

A written introduction to the project says the vaccine has been evaluated in mice, ferrets and macaques and produced no side effects. Clinical studies are in progress.

Lu Xiaochun, deputy director of the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission, said Shanghai regards new therapies and prevention of infectious diseases as its key scientific mission until 2010.

(Shanghai Daily March 18, 2008)

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